I have gone up and down with my opinion on the FTC regulating review bloggers. I’ve kept it to myself over the course of the past six months while they were deciding what to do and how to do it. I am right smack in the middle of this if I want to be or not. Well I suppose if I didn’t want to be then I should just hang up my hat and say good bye, but it’s too late. I’m addicted and staying come hell and high waters.
Why did they get involved?
"Given that social media has become such a significant player in the advertising area, we thought it was necessary to address social media as well," said Richard Cleland, assistant director for the division of advertising practices at the FTC
In a Mom Blogger’s words:
We are a force, a strength, something that cannot be stopped, and we should be proud that from nothing, bloggers have created a true new medium where none existed before. Wear the badge not as a hindrance, but as a validation. Trisha Haas from Mom Dot
What is a bloggers responsibility?
When writing about something that you have received from a company or someone that represents a company you should mention if you received that product for free. I have always said in my posts “I received this product” ok, that means Company X sent me product A that you are reading about. Do you think this is clear enough? I mean, I don’t want to get in trouble. Also, lets say I went on a blogging trip for a company like Sara Lee. They wanted me to fully disclose everything. I did, once, but I’m continuing to work with them; without further compensation. I just really liked what I learned from them. Do I need to disclose every detail of that one trip (I’m not sure I even disclosed EVERY single detail of the trip the first time around), every time I write about Sara Lee, because what if you are a new reader and you didn’t read about my trip. The same thing goes for Marshalls and Sears. Does this mean that they bought me and own me now in the eyes of the FTC?
I read the rules, I’ve read opinions from bloggers and journalists (a lot of journalists don’t like bloggers), I will admit, some of it still doesn’t make sense to me.
I think expecting review bloggers to be honest about when and where they are making money is the right thing to do.
Bloggers should be expected to have integrity. We should follow these basic guidelines that I got from Susan Getgood at Marketing Roadmaps. She understand law and broke down the official documentation (pdf) from the FTC.
1. Liability for false statements in a sponsored post
2. Disclosure of receipt of free product
3. Anti-astroturfing. Requires disclosure of material interest when making an endorsement.
She thinks that Mom Bloggers are over reacting. Some of us probably are.
Is the Blogging Community Over Reacting?
Yes, and no. For a Mom or Dad that is already blogging ethically see that the government has just declared they have the right to slap you with a 11,000 dollar fine for writing your opinion on a product; they have a right to be upset. My cousin wrote to me this morning because he was worried for me. He isn’t even a blogger, just a family member that wants to make sure I don’t get into trouble.
Some bloggers are afraid of the need to go back and edit all their older posts. Bloggers like me that already disclose when something is free probably have nothing to worry about. It’s just alarming and there is a fear of “am I doing it right?”.
Some bloggers are complaining about free speech and the right to say what I want to say. I think those are the ones that are over reacting. And maybe also the ones that aren’t following the rules already. You have the right to say what you want to say. Consumers just want to know if you were influenced to say that. I mean, is it an opinion you would defend in court. And you have to remember that an opinion is different from a “claim”
For example, when a review blogger is writing about a product that made something like eczema go away. It worked for them. They can’t claim “it cures eczema”. You can’t make medical claims unless you want your butt sued. (summary from marketing roadmaps)
Some bloggers, myself included want to know where the disclosure is supposed to end
As mom bloggers, with affiliations to advertisers and PR, do our relationships stop at our written word or do they go with us throughout our daily lives?
The line is so blurry that its barely existent.
Trisha Haas (Mom Dot)
And there was a comment from her post that I certainly agree with.
I want to make sure I do it right. None of his “case by case” nonsense. Tell us how you want us to do it and then all will be well.
From Marianna at Green Mamma’s Pad
What is considered Enough?
I’m almost inline with a comment I read about creating a blanket disclosure about reading anything on my PERSONAL Mom blog.
How about if all bloggers put a disclaimer on their sites that says something like this, would that meet the FTC guidelines?
Anything you read on this site, see on this site, smell on this site or consume in any manner from this site, whatsoever, quite possibly resulted in my being paid or getting a free product from somebody somewhere, somehow.
The opinions expressed here may be my own opinions or opinions written on behalf of someone else in exchange for some type of renumeration to me.
For your own protection you should assume that whatever I wrote, posted or conveyed to you in any manner whatsoever probably resulted in some type of renumeration to me so take everything you see or read here with a grain of salt as I may not really know what I am blogging about; then again, maybe I do. It is up to you to make that determination I don’t have the time or inclination to take you by the hand, I am too busy blogging about whatever it is I blog about.
For all you know this entire site could be a shame, a ruse, and/or a cover up. Enter at your own risk.
If you even remotely suspect that I got paid somehow for what I have posted than it would be best to assume I have been or will be, so believing anything you read here is totally up to you as I have no control over your mind. The author of this comment is from the blog FOXBARON
Since the FTC says they are going to be going on a case by case basis, perhaps that’s where I’ll stay for now too. Every post will have something in it saying “I received this” or “I paid for this”. But still people, you can’t believe everything you read on-line. My site represents my opinion. I am an honest person, but even when I don’t like something it comes across as it’s still a good product. My opinion is a half glass full. The key word is my blog is my venue to express my opinion. We’ll see how this all unfolds.