July 7, 2009

FTC to enforce disclosure in blogging

Practical ethics requires that a blogger disclose when he has received a gift or compensation from a firm that he subsequently blogs about.

For example, consider the case of a blogger recommending a book that he received as a gift from a publisher or an author; or a blogger selling a book and receives a kickback from an online bookseller; or a blogger promoting Bible software in exchange for a chance to receive a luxury leather Bible.  Such bloggers are ethically required to disclose the gift, kickback, or lottery chance.  To do otherwise would be to deceive the blogger’s readership, who otherwise would expect a disinterested opinion.

These ethical guidelines will soon be legally enforced in the US by the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC’s guidelines are available here and it is expected to become final this summer.

Deborah Yao of the AP writes:  “It would be the first time the FTC tries to patrol systematically what bloggers say and do online. The common practice of posting a graphical ad or a link to an online retailer — and getting commissions for any sales from it — would be enough to trigger oversight.”

(By the way, this blog does not receive compensation or commissions from any posts that it makes.  This blog does not receive free books or other gifts that it subsequently blogs about.)


Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Big Brother is a Big Bother.

Doubleplus ungood.

tc robinson said...

Interesting stuff! Thanks.

goulablogger said...

Your tax dollars at work.

"The economy sucks but hey, that little old lady in Buzzard's Roost has come clean about her stated preference in knitting needles on her blog after a massive FTC investigation involving fifteen federal agents and hundreds of man hours proved she got a free one needle once from Tina's Thread Shop."

Where's Jonathan Swift when you need him?

Chuck Grantham