I am going to sue the FTC for discrimination. You in?

law Okay let’s talk about the elephant in the room shall we? The pathetic FTC decision to try and gain some sense of control over bloggers. Some of this is a regurgitation of this post…but I was mad enough to write another.

Right now I have in front of me 16 magazines (don’t ask-the kids stupid fund-raisers own me) and I have found about 35 ‘reviews’ in them. These are not hard hitting news journals, these are magazines purchased for their entertainment value (People, Woman’s Day, Glamour etc) And no where in the magazine does it disclose that the magazine editors were given these products to test and review. NO WHERE. And please do not try to tell me they send them BACK to the manufacturer. THEY DON’T. “We loved this lipstick you sent. We used it on a photo shoot and now I am returning it to you”…never ever happens. Why should a blogger be held to a higher, stricter standard than a publication people PAY FOR? A publication that makes MONEY? And what does the FTC say about this?

The FTC is not recommending that news outlets — newspapers, magazines, television and Internet news sites — issue similar disclosures. The FTC justifies the distinction by saying that consumers are not likely to care whether people who review items for newspapers or magazines have received free review copies.

Oh I get it Mr. FTC.

So it’s JUST US you are after.

So you have to be wondering WHY the FTC has got it out for us huh? I will tell you why….Because the FTC is sad to see traditional channels of print media go out of business. They are in a panic and are trying desperately to gain control over this new medium. But the FTC has failed to make a very real distinction between different types of blogs and blog content. Yes, some blogs are presented as NEWS with FACTUAL data. But MOST do not. The very nature and the birth of blogging was to express PERSONAL OPINION in a way that others might find entertaining. Most blogs fall into that category Mr. FTC…most are personal opinions written to entertain. And an entertainment blog should not be held to the same FTC rulings as a NEWS outlet blog. Period. End of story.

So the next question is…where will this insane meddling control end?

If my mom sent out an email to a a large number of people, and told them Nestle chocolate is the BEST and everyone should buy it with no disclaimer that Nestle PAID HER TO SEND IT, would the FTC have control over that? Would they fine her? Will they now begin to regulate how we give advice or OUR OPINIONS via phone, text, email or newsletters? How about Twitter? Are we no longer allowed to share our opinions there? What about US mail? Can I not send letters to people telling them about my new car? Even if the car was GIVEN TO ME and I failed to mention that? What if I stood up in a restaurant (who had given me a free meal) and said “Try the meatloaf! It is awesome!”…is THAT misleading the public? IS that within the scope of the FTC’s range? How on earth do blogs differ? No one pays to visit a blog. And I don’t force my way into peoples homes and MAKE them read it. And most blogs do not profess to be ANYTHING more than a source of entertainment…..few claim to be neutral un-baised forms of information. Hell, the whole concept of blogging is that it is indeed very very BIASED. A bias based on personal experience.

For one brief fleeting second I was almost flattered by the new FTC ruling. I thought…”Wow the influence of blogging is now something to be REGULATED!” And then about one second later I thought “these people are insane”.

Hey I am all for rules. But they have to be applied universally.

Anything less than that is DISCRIMINATION.

Hey who is up for a lawsuit?

Anyone?

Cuz I would really love to make a federal case out of this.

Suing the Federal Trade Commission might be my new hobby.

I can just see the next big Lifetime movie of the week…

“The Glamorous Life Association goes to Washington”

You in?

Ethics button

 

 

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Pendergrass October 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

Actually, that FTC thing DOES indeed include a Twitter regulation.

I’m in. Totally. It’s a crock.

Carolyn October 6, 2009 at 12:06 pm

POOR newspapers and Fashion Mags! Word of mouth has taken over print advertising,their revenue source. The FTC will never be able to enforce such a rule. ( I don’t think!) If a star wears a watch from her swag bag, must she also wear a disclosure sign? After all, that’s the reason they recieve all that free stuff, in hopes that they’ll be seen in public wearing it, and sales will soar.

lisa mertins October 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm

hi marcy, you know i’m out and also here to heat the debate or posit another view — take your pick.

are you sure all 16 of those magazines are there purely to entertain? none of them have editorial content? do the journalists reviewing those products keep them? or are they required to return them?

here’s a good discussion on how NPR defines advertising and underwriting: http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R909160900?itemMD5=fe11859b3712d5982fb5184a21797c67

maybe the distinction lies with a blog that is for profit. there are many bloggers that don’t take ad revenue but my guess is a majority want to make money with their blogs. does your mom have a link in her email voicing her opinion about nestle that will send her a couple of pennies if her friends click on it? just a thought.

in this long dawn of change in how people receive information, it seems important to me to be mindful of the perils of polarized opinion. conventional journalists minimizing the impact of bloggers is a good example of where that can lead.

and i see regulating undisclosed profit to bloggers by the ftc as a way of providing transparency for those being entertained — helping to ensure they aren’t mislead.

there’s no disputing that blogging creates relationships between people. the most successful of them resonate with authenticity, critical in any relationship. in relationships, there needs to be understanding and trust. that’s what reputable media outlets, whether they’re meant to only entertain or if they’re meant to inform strive for as an ideal.

all for now. my lunch is over :)

Jen B October 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Puhleeease…. just another way out lovely government is controlling us. We think we’re free in America. LOL.

foolery October 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm

What if the regulation is aimed more at the companies trying to peddle their swag, and not at the bloggers themselves? That, in fact, is the way I heard it reported in NPR this morning. Unfortunately, I was drying my hair with my new ProBlow 1600 dual control hair dryer with WhoopsYouBlewIt Control (TM) from General Stuff Inc., and I didn’t hear the whole report. ;)

Discussion yesterday of this very thing on Facebook with my friend Devanie Angel, who has been a newspaper journalist for many years. At least one commenter there had worked for a magazine, and she said that the swag was sent back or auctioned to the employees.

Kyddryn October 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Heheh…I’ll go your bail, Mizz Marcy.

Aww, Hell…never mind bail…I’m in, too.

I DO think it suspect that blogs are suddenly being regulated in this way, and feel it has much more to do with getting a grip on and squeezing the life out of them than it does fairness in advertising or whatever sad excuses they’re giving us to attempt justifying the boneheaded decision they just made.

Laws should apply to EVERYONE, and not just a select few.

But then…I may be a wee paranoid.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Marcy October 6, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Thank you all for your comments. This is a response to my buddy LISA.

Unless you consider “17 ways to drive your man crazy in bed” editorial content, I can assure you these are magazines created to entertain.

Besides the FTC said themselves they weren’t going to insist magazines carry a disclaimer. Hello? Why not? If EVERYONE providing content for entertainment purposes had to do it…I would not be upset. But it is because they are just SELECTING BLOGGERS that pisses me off. I like transparency too…but um, I want it FOR EVERYONE. That includes TV programs, magazines, newspaper and anything giving any kind of information to the public. Again…NOT JUST BLOGGERS

And it isnn’t a for profit thing. Magazines are for profit and they are not being asked to include disclaimers at all. And let me ask you, what if someone WAS paid $50 to send an email out to promote a product (let’s use Nestle again)….is the FTC going to regulate that as well? I think even you will agree that would be creepy and cross the line of control. And yet I ask…how is a blog any different? It is like one big email that has been POSTED for the reader to come to read, instead of being mailed to someone.

 And yes, I realize the FTC has a ‘payola’ policy (thanks for sending the link http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/PayolaRules.html…which strictly only refers to CASH payments for media coverage. Says nothing of receiving a free product for a review. And refers only to broadcast media and does not mention written publications

Note to all readers: Lisa is a GOOD friend of mine who has like a million years working for/with one of the largest credible newspapers….she has a different perspective and I appreciate this. I feel strong. She feels strong. That is a-okay in my book.
FOR REALS. I heart you Lisa.

lisa mertins October 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm

damn marcy (and i mean that in the most loving way), you’re making me do more homework with the payola definition. but i want to say thanks for the noted endorsement of my friend cred :)

like you standing by your opinion, i will stand by mine that there is more to endorsing products than meets the eye.

i agree that singling out bloggers is egregious but like i said, i’ll have to look into current rules for other content providers before i stand on that point.

my real hope is that people will continue to be mindful of the information they get – whether it’s through blogs or magazines or conversations with friends.

and that’s what’s beautiful and exciting about our times, the truth is out there for everyone to find (unless some big business squashes it. mwahahahaha)!

thatgirlblogs October 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm

they won’t come after us.

hello, first amendment. It’s the bloggers calling.

how can they get around amending THAT?

Crystal October 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm

So, does this mean you are a Republican like me now?
Less regulation…less meddling by the frickin government. We are big boys and girls. We trust that the American people can figure out this for themselves. We don’t need the government to help us poor little people by treating us like we are imbeciles who can’t figure this out for ourselves. It’s always the Democrats who treat the American people like babies.

Kathi D October 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I think some sort of regulation might help restore credibility to blog reviews. As it is, I put no trust whatsoever in any product reviewed on a blog, because I assume that the product has been given to the blogger for free, and possibly payments made as well, in exchange for a good review.

I have been besieged lately with e-mails from companies wanting me to plug their stuff on my blog, but I doubt that they would like the way I play. I would just as easily give a bad review as a good one, and I would say up front “I got this for free.” What’s the problem with admitting you got something for free? Total transparency.

Kathi D October 7, 2009 at 4:18 pm

P.S. And for the record, I’m not taking up any of the companies on their offers. My blog is for MY voice, not theirs.

annieology October 18, 2009 at 8:52 am

Someone years ago told me to do payperpost. After looking into it I found out that they’d pay me $1 to review a $20 product that I had to buy, yeah, seems reasonable.

This whole things seems unreasonable, it’s not like I force myself into peoples homes and make them listen to how wonderful Nyquil is. They come to my site, if they don’t like what I have there they are free to leave.

Makes no sense at all.

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