The FTC issued rulings yesterday requiring bloggers and celebs to clearly state when they receive cash payments or freebies for endorsing products or services, Dow Jones reports today.
It’s an interesting attempt at regulating the wild west of product peddling on the blogosphere and in social media. It’s hard to argue regulations aren’t needed as companies of all sizes realize the power and reach of social media and increasingly invade our Facebook, Twitter and blog accounts with increasingly deceptive advertising. Remember the “RealAge” quiz pimped by Oprah that turned out to be a data mining front for Big Pharma?
Rarely a day goes by when ChangingAging.org isn’t offered a sample of anti-aging grapefruit juice or wrinkle-removing cream or asked to promote the latest invisible hearing aide or other products pigeon-holed for “old folks.” We always politely decline to endorse any product (okay, sometimes not so politely), but if we were in the business of peddling products I’d like to think we’d fully disclose any bribes we received for the endorsement.
But is it the FTC’s job to impose ethics on the blogosphere, Twitterverse and Facebook? The estimable Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine.com says NO, and much of the blogosphere is in uproar over the new regulations. The internet, Jarvis says, is not so much a medium but a place where people talk. He argues that people are not creating media on Facebook and blogs so much as creating conversations, and the government should not be regulating conversations. Although I don’t think that’s entirely true, I agree with his conclusion:
And there is the greatest myth embedded within the FTC’s rules: that the government can and should sanitize the internet for our protection. The internet is the world and the world is messy and I don’t want anyone – not the government, not a newspaper editor – to clean it up for me, for I fear what will go out in the garbage: namely, my rights.
Full post here.