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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Disclosure of free stuff for bloggers compulsory

According to an article appearing in the New York Times, which you can read here, bloggers will be soon obliged to divulge the free stuff they get from companies in order to provide them with material to review.

"The new regulations are aimed at the rapidly shifting new-media world and how
advertisers are using bloggers and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
to pitch their wares.The F.T.C. said that beginning on Dec. 1, bloggers who
review products must disclose any connection with advertisers, including, in
most cases, the receipt of free products and whether or not they were paid in
any way by advertisers, as occurs frequently. The new rules also take aim at
celebrities, who will now need to disclose any ties to companies, should they
promote products on a talk show or on Twitter".
Actual fines are going to be implemented too: "Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews."

Finally, might we add! Full disclosure has been a constant policy on this blog from the very start for the simple reason I believe that readers have a right to know whether we might be influenced by free stuff or not (Not that we have actually received anything much because offering to share costs seems to deter some offers, but we're not trivialising even mere samples because like George Bernand Shaw knew it's not in the amount but in the spirit of the thing). Please find the disclosure in the end of each relevant post.

5 comments:

  1. Do you know anything about Ogle Sister Sue Purfume?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Surely you don't mean the scent mentioned as being smelled on Gabrielle Anwar in the film "Scent of a Woman"? (which is actually Oglive Sisters soap)

    Otherwise, I have no idea, I'm afraid. (perhaps one of our readers might chime in though, if they do)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am all for calling out advertisements that masquerade as genuine opinion, but I have to say there are some really disturbing implications to this rule, especially the part about punitive action for "inappropriate reviews." Strictly interpreted, that would mean that if I bought a perfume based on a positive review and I didn't like it, I could take legal action against the reviewer. That's pretty much the death knell of criticism, isn't it?

    As somebody who has worked as a professional book critic for a long time, I understand the problems with conflicts of interest, but the idea that there's something fundamentally suspect about a reviewer accepting free material to critique is just silly. I pretty much assume that ALL reviews involve a freebie for the reviewer. Critics who have any integrity take the policy of the blogger in the story--they just don't review stuff they think isn't worth promoting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. M,

    I think they're more concerned with stuff that is either big (cars etc) or can pose grounds for disputal on the claims (diet-aids, miraculous creams, that sort of thing). I don't think ut's specifically about perfume blogging at any rate, LOL. And I do think that the legal action taken against reviewers would have to do with false claims and false promises (like in the examples above stated) so that the consumer is protected.

    Nevertheless, you'd be surprised how many people without your experience don't realise that social media, bloggers and critics are given free things to write about them (and how often they end up doing it anyway). I am saying this because I had discussed it with people in my entourage and they had no idea about the practice grosso modo. Transparency is always best because it protects both the consumer and the reviewer: they will think twice about what they write when disclosure is given.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'll grant you, I don't think the FTC has it in for perfume bloggers ;-)

    I'm sure you're right that people don't realize how reviewers come by the things they write about. I wonder, though, how they think this business works. In any case, in the old media world, people have always taken pride in not being swayed by flackery. Just because a publisher sends me a book for free and a publicist sends me a friendly note doesn't mean I'll feel duty bound to give the book a good review. Quite the contrary. Same with perfume, although I don't blog about perfume enough to be inundated with free samples.

    ReplyDelete

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