Have you heard of this? The FTC plans to monitor blogs for false claims and a lack of disclosure for compensation.
As you know, there are tons of blog owners out there that recommend products or services in return for some sort of compensation, whether it be cash or free products. I would be curious to know how the FTC intends on tackling this massive challenge. Also, I’m a little split on this subject because on one side, you have the issue of freedom of speech and on the other side, you have the issue of protecting the consumer.
I’m all for protecting the consumer, but where do you draw the line? At some point, the consumer needs to take responsibility for their own actions. If you get ripped off, it’s partially your fault for not doing sufficient research. I know fake reviews on the web are easy to fabricate, however, you shouldn’t buy something solely based on a single review you read on the internet. There will always be people who stretch the truth and even lie to make money.
I personally do not find anything wrong with promoting a product or service you believe in. And, hey, if you can get compensated for something you would’ve written about anyways, why not? It’s a win-win situation. Now, the FTC wants you to disclose when you’re getting compensated for a review or recommendation.
I’m assuming the FTC is not so much concerned about monitoring personal blogs, but more interested in detecting flogs (fake blogs) or marketers that practice fakevertising (fake advertising). An example of a flog would be a fake news site set up on an “official news” sounding domain to promote certain products or services. An example of fakevertising would be using the name of a famous celebrity to promote a product. I’m sure you’ve seen those fake ads featuring Oprah Winfrey or Dr. Phil.
Jay Weintraub offers an interesting look at flogs. These unscrupulous marketers aren’t simply exercising their freedom of speech, they are taking it one step further. They are blatantly misleading and lying to the public by using fake celebrity endorsements.