If you find the recent FTC Guidelines on bloggers and other social media participants, unfair and restrictive, well you are not alone. Luckily for us bloggers in other parts of the world, we are not covered by this ruling. (Or are we?).
Anyway, the latest internet and online media player who opposed such FTC ruling was the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The IAB called the new FTC Guidelines as unfair and unconstitutional and they are asking the FTC to withdraw the said guidelines.
What the Guide Says?
In case you missed the announcement recently, the FTC Ruling calls for all bloggers and social media practitioners who engage in product reviews to disclose that they received the products for free. Failure to do so will subject the blogger to civil offense penalties.
What irked the IAB and perhaps even bloggers who oppose the new FTC rulings are the following statements:
In contrast, if a blogger’s statement on his personal blog or elsewhere (e.g., the site of an online retailer of electronic products) qualifies as an “endorsement” – i.e., as a sponsored message – due to the blogger’s relationship with the advertiser or the value of the merchandise he has received and has been asked to review by that advertiser, knowing these facts might affect the weight consumers give to his review.
Unfair for Online Media
IAB argues that the new guidelines is unfair for the online media, especially since its offline counterpart has been engaged in the same practice and the FTC did not include them in the guidelines.
According to IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg:
“What concerns us the most in these revisions is that the Internet, the cheapest, most widely accessible communications medium ever invented, would have less freedom than other media.”
Rothenberg said IAB is not arguing that bloggers and social media be treated differently than incumbent media but emphasizes that the new conversational media, covering bloggers, Twitter users, Facebook and other social network members, be accorded with the same rights and freedoms as other media channels.
The Lucky Non-U.S. Tech Bloggers
Luckily for me and other bloggers who are not based in the U.S. the said ruling does not really covers us. But even if we are covered, I would also be inclined to oppose the new ruling especially the line that reads – “due to the blogger’s relationship with the advertiser or the value of the merchandise he has received and has been asked to review by that advertiser, knowing these facts might affect the weight consumers give to his review.”
Those statements are a little bit insulting, especially for tech bloggers who receive demo and review units of new gadgets that are about to be released by manufacturers. Not all the reviews I read from these bloggers are biased. Most if not all really tell the flaws and shortcomings of the products and not just their good features.