Much a’Do…

FTCOn the governments part that is. By now, you’ve probably read about the recent FTC announcment in regards to bloggers and how swag is compensation. You’ve probably already browsed through some initial reactions. One blogger even did some investigative type follow-up research (essentially, I just consolidated all the various links from a couple blogs into one handy spot for you).

Essentially, the FTC is up in arms and concern over bloggers, yes, people like me who write, blather, and verbally fumble around in the dark massiveness that is the internet, might be enticing consumers to products with secret agendas and illicit gains. Yes, free swag, also known as review copies, is causing the diabolical geniuses of the blog’o’sphere (God, I hate that phrase) to use our amateur skills to dupe the benign masses into a purchase.

The crux of the situation is that bloggers get a book, a game, an item of some sort, and then write about it. It seems that the FTC considers the receiving of a product is an implicit expectation of  a favorable review. Because a blogger doesn’t get paid from an outside entity, and isn’t a professional per-se, then we are easily swayed and morally malleable in what we deliver. Nevermind that if you work for a newspaper, magazine, or online site, that the swag you get you typically keep anyway, but as far as the FTC is concerned, that’s still the property of “the company”.

I’m not going to take the stance that no bloggers out there will pimp themselves to whomever will give them free shit, that would be foolish and a level of naivete that most of us lost with our baby-teeth. However, they are definitely in the minority, and find their reader numbers sinking faster than a mob informer in the Hudson, thus negating the impact they will have on the brainless, consuming masses. Most of us that are out there, are here because we want to be a part of a community, and enjoy writing. We’re here to discuss our hobby with others of a similar mind, and be a hub for a gathering.

If we get a little free swag that amounts to an extra row of bookshelf filled up, or cool display piece that no one other than a select few would appreciate it, how can that be compensation? If you read the questions to Mr. Cleland, you’ll see it’s on the possibility of resale and profit gained through this, that seems to be the main concern of the FTC. My question then is this: When did we start legislating on possibilities instead of action? That is a very dangerous road.

If you’d like to talk to anyone actually behind all this, I’ll leave the contact information from the FTC’s announcement here:

 

Media Contact:

Betsy Lordan
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-3707

Staff Contact:

Richard Cleland
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

2 Responses to Much a’Do…

  1. Rer says:

    So could you explain in layman’s terms how this would affect us?

  2. shadowwar says:

    Essentially, this means that if you recieve any product from any company *for free* and then do a review on said product, you have to let everyone know that you got the reviewed item for free. In practicality, it means very little. Both because I will probably never be asked to review anything by a company, and also because it’s not a big deal to speak up about getting the swag, and probably would have anyway.

    However, this is one of those principled issues that sticks with me. It’s a greater level of control the federal government places down upon people. It’s also foolish to believe that it will have any measure of reasonable success, particularly considering the ambiguity of the internet, and how many international bloggers there are. By Mr. Cleland’s own words, they won’t be going after individual bloggers as it would not be effective enforcement, instead, they will be looking to go after corporations. By which, he must mean sites like Massively, except, I don’t see how that can be the case, since those people are employed and are paid for their work. The other alternative, is that he meant go after the company distributing the product, except, they dont’ fall under the purview of this law that I can see, they don’t have control over what someone else writes.

    Either way you slice it, it’s bad legislation, with vague wording, imprecise verbage and tenuous concepts. As Syp said, there are far too many quotations in their to make me comfortable. The sheer ambiguity of the law gives it a far-reaching strength that stretches across a lot of possible venues. While the intentions are good I’m sure, the implementation is poor, and ultimately unnecessary.

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