>According to an article written by Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, the Federal Trade Commission is planning to go after bloggers who receive freebies or payments for their posts.
The following is an excerpt from McCarthy’s article:
The Federal Trade Commission is planning to crack down on bloggers who review or promote products while earning freebies or payments, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
This would, for the first time, bring bloggers under FTC guidelines that ban deceptive or unfair business practices.
“New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers–as well as the companies that compensate them–for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest,” the article explained.
The rules could be quite strict, even extending to the practice of affiliate links–for example, a music blogger who links to a song on Amazon MP3 or iTunes that earns an affiliate commission in the process.
The practice of free products for bloggers, most of whom are not bound by ethical guidelines that journalists have historically followed, has been making headlines for some time now. Microsoft, for example, created a wave of bad press a few years ago when it gave free Acer laptops preloaded with Windows Vista to several dozen bloggers.
Some companies have sprung up around the whole notion of blogger compensation and giveaways. The AP article mentions some of the marketing companies that have made a business out of offering bloggers incentives–free trips, products, gift certificates, or outright payments–for coverage. One of them, Izea, has been generating controversy in the tech press since it started PayPerPost.
Some bloggers, the AP article mentioned, are concerned that the FTC’s efforts could go too far, possibly generating probes into posts that were written without any compensation, and possibly leading bloggers to post with more restraint. And some believe it would be better if bloggers created their own standards based on niche and industry.
Read McCarthy’s article by clicking here.
The decision by the Federal Trade Commission has many implications and may have a chilling effect on some bloggers. For instance, some bloggers ask for donations. Are these donations taxable income? Many blogs carry Google Ads. Will the Federal Trade Commission require bloggers to pay taxes on revenues from Google Ads? Many bloggers review books submitted by publishers for review. Will these freebies come under the review of the Federal Trade Commission?
We must wait and see.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary