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Today, the Federal Trade Commission formally enacted new rules regarding the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (PDF), extending these requirements regarding disclosures of conflicts of interest (last revised in 1980) to the Internet.  As the Commission summarizes:

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as "results not typical" – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that "material connections" (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other "word-of-mouth" marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

The FTC has jurisdiction over consumer products, not political candidates, but y'all should be aware of these changes in the law.  In particular, I want to draw your attention to to the following rule and Internet-specific guides to its implementation:

§ 255.5 Disclosure of material connections.
When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed. For example, when an endorser who appears in a television commercial is neither represented in the advertisement as an expert nor is known to a significant portion of the viewing public, then the advertiser should clearly and conspicuously disclose either the payment or promise of compensation prior to and in exchange for the endorsement or the fact that the endorser knew or had reason to know or to believe that if the endorsement favored the advertised product some benefit, such as an appearance on television, would be extended to the endorser.

Example 7: A college student who has earned a reputation as a video game expert maintains a personal weblog or "blog" where he posts entries about his gaming experiences. Readers of his blog frequently seek his opinions about video game hardware and software. As it has done in the past, the manufacturer of a newly released video game system sends the student a free copy of the system and asks him to write about it on his blog. He tests the new gaming system and writes a favorable review. Because his review is disseminated via a form of consumer-generated media in which his relationship to the advertiser is not inherently obvious, readers are unlikely to know that he has received the video game system free of charge in exchange for his review of the product, and given the value of the video game system, this fact likely would materially affect the credibility they attach to his endorsement. Accordingly, the blogger should clearly and conspicuously disclose that he received the gaming system free of charge.

The manufacturer should advise him at the time it provides the gaming system that this connection should be disclosed, and it should have procedures in place to try to monitor his postings for compliance.

Example 8: An online message board designated for discussions of new music download technology is frequented by MP3 player enthusiasts. They exchange information about new products, utilities, and the functionality of numerous playback devices. Unbeknownst to the message board community, an employee of a leading playback device manufacturer has been posting messages on the discussion board promoting the manufacturer's product. Knowledge of this poster's employment likely would affect the weight or credibility of her endorsement. Therefore, the poster should clearly and conspicuously disclose her relationship to the manufacturer to members and readers of the message board.

As you scan the new rules, you'll no doubt locate other topics and examples worth discussing.

[Disclaimer: As always, all I'm doing here is relaying the news, not offering legal advice. Got it?]

Added: This passage, on pages 8-9, is the clearest expression of the new disclosure requirement test:

The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed "endorsements" within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered "sponsored" by the advertiser and therefore an "advertising message." In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in whichcase there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an "endorsement" that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received. An advertiser’s lack of control over the specific statement made via these new forms of consumer-generated media would not automatically disqualify that statement from being deemed an "endorsement" within the meaning of the Guides. Again, the issue is whether the consumer-generated statement can be considered "sponsored."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:40 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Weel there goes my diary, heh (8+ / 0-)

    I posted a far less comprehensive diary on this, with much less information.

    Thanks Adam, this is interesting.

    I will not speak with disrespect of the Republican Party. I always speak with respect of the past. -Woodrow Wilson

    by Gangster Octopus on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:42:59 AM PDT

  •  These sound fair (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, mungley, Luetta, kaolin, soms, trumpeter

    I'd be happy if people did have to disclose any free benefits they got that may have influenced their opinion.

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:43:18 AM PDT

    •  So the "Mfgrs" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, wader, inclusiveheart, kaolin

      monitor their "paid" bloggers? Like Lobbyists?

      Give me a public option, or give me Death!

      by tlemon on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:52:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Could get tricky really. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ninkasi23, Cassandra Waites, tlemon, soms

        A lot of word-of-mouth marketing efforts rely on disseminating freebies to a large number of people.  Seems like the free sample crowd are going to have a hard time.  I had a lady offer me some chocolate at the grocery store over the weekend.  Now she's got to tell me that I can't say nice things about the chocolate on the internets without disclosing that I was given a square of the chocolate to taste; and she probably needs to take all kinds of information so that her company can track my comments for compliance.  That's not exactly the same casual interaction it once was to say the least.

        •  "the value of the items or services received" (0+ / 0-)

          is supposed to be taken into account when determining whether something is covered under the new rules. Unless that chocolate was gold-dipped, my money says even the most zealous bureaucrat isn't going to care.

          Empathetic fascist socialist sociopaths for Obama

          by kaolin on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 04:40:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure but it is admittedly very vague right? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites, soms

            What happens if you are saying something that someone doesn't like and they manage to over state the value of the items or services required?  That last part being highly subjective imo.  I don't like the kinds of laws and regulations that basically start by making everyone an offender and can be subjectively and randomly enforced.

            I think this regulation will end up yielding a very interesting free speech case ultimately.

            •  These hardly make "everybody" an offender. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              soms

              And sorry, but I consider it ridiculous to imply that they're intended to make criminals of people who get a free sample at a grocery store. An interesting free speech case may indeed result, but when it does I believe it will touch upon needed explorations of ethical issues in new media, and that's a discussion that'll be good to have, as opposed to free-floating paranoia.

              Empathetic fascist socialist sociopaths for Obama

              by kaolin on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 05:47:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Of course it has the potential to make everyone (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassandra Waites

                an offender.  It casts a wide net and it is highly subjective in its definition.  It is sort of funny that you call this "paranoia".  We've countless examples of laws that were ostensibly enacted and understood to be applied to "the big fish" in recent years and decades - and yet the little fish have found themselves to be targeted and very surprised by the fact that they were.  If something is illegal, then it is simply illegal.  The law or regulation in this case can be applied to anyone if it is not limited in its scope.  Look at the freakin' Patriot Act - turns out that better than 90% of the exceptions afforded terrorist hunting government law enforcement workers have been used to hunt for drug traders.  Wanting laws, regulations and rules to be written effectively and judiciously doesn't constitute paranoia - especially when we are talking about First Amendment issues.

                •  Hardly the Patriot Act. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  soms

                  That type of comparison is one of the things constituting paranoia, or "paranoia" as you put it.

                  The regulation itself includes language to limit its own applicability:

                  The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received.

                  So, the regulation is saying that not every product mention is an endorsement. (Therefore, it can't be making "everyone" an offender.) In particular, it's going to look at things like the length of the relationship with the advertiser, which would seem to allow the casual interaction of randomly distributed free samples to go unregulated.

                  I find it realistic that the Guide acknowledges the circumstances in which it applies "are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here." Am I right this is part of what you consider too sweeping? That is always a danger, but online communication is so diverse and evolving so rapidly, I think they are right to build in some leeway. And the language seems slanted toward excluding things from the scope of this regulation. A blogger who was targeted can quote these considerations and point out that they have no agreement with the advertiser, are unlikely to receive future products or services,... and if it happens that the value of goods and services received was substantial, I would hope the blogger pointed it out to begin with because I agree with that intent of what's being discussed here.

                  In the end, if someone is in doubt they can disclose that they got the chewing gum, or whatever product they so glowingly reviewed, as a free sample. Isn't that a small price to pay to avoid running afoul of the Patriot Act?

                  Empathetic fascist socialist sociopaths for Obama

                  by kaolin on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 09:10:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  This should help (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, mungley, kaolin, trumpeter

    in matters regarding commercial relationships.  

    "Never trust a computer too big to throw out a window" -Steve Wozniak

    by Four of Nine on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:43:24 AM PDT

  •  And don't tout stock either. (8+ / 0-)
    This should be common sense stuff, of course.

    But, how do they enforce this stuff?

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:44:02 AM PDT

  •  I make no secret about where I work and what (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, grannycarol

    they do, do I need to disclose that information on every post that may be related to what they do? Like adding it to my sig? Or would putting the information in my 'about' be sufficient?

    Well, we knew this was coming. Guess we have to learn to live with it.

    I'm a Puntheist. If your religion doesn't make you laugh out loud at least once a week you may have picked the wrong one.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:44:44 AM PDT

  •  These rules will give food bloggers indigestion (4+ / 0-)

    "You can never guarantee victory, but you can guarantee defeat."--Hall of Fame baseball writer Leonard Koppett.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:45:19 AM PDT

  •  OT, online sites of interest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    because they won awards....Article about Newseum:
    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    Think big.

    Reviews and Payments:
    I find it deeply comforting to watch people like David Pogue of the NY Times review new products and, at the same time, demonstrate the absence of financial favors by the manufacturers. No free samples.

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:45:27 AM PDT

  •  So sock puppets must now disclosed their (7+ / 0-)

    relationships with Champion Athletic Wear or GoldToe?

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:45:45 AM PDT

  •  What are the odds... (3+ / 0-)

    ...this passes Constitutional muster?  This seems to me to be an obvious violation of people's First Amendment rights.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:47:02 AM PDT

    •  Not sure it is any different (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trumpeter

      from lobbyists having to register with Sec's of States offices in order to do business in the state.  

      •  The two situations seem totally dissimilar... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OtterQueen

        ...I have a very hard time believing that's the applicable precedent.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:54:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't believe it (7+ / 0-)

          is a precedent, but the point of lobbyists having to register is that the citizens are more informed about who is cozying up to their legislators.  Lobbyists could argue an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights as well by being made to meet an additional requirement re speech or publication.

          I think this one falls within the understanding of unfair trade practice law.  For instance, I have been on this site since 2006.  Folks either like or dislike me, but not as it relates to products or services.  What if I deliberately contrived this online persona in order to tout the benefits of some drug for depression or sleep aid.  What if no one knew I was actually a well paid contractor for Eli-Lilly?  What if a number of folks here thought, geez, it works for gchaucer2 -- I like her -- I'll get the same stuff.  I see that as an unfair trade practice in that my role is deceptive.

    •  Uh, How so? It's paid advertising. (4+ / 0-)

      You don't have the right to misrepresent yourself to the public.

      "I'm smoking Cool cigarettes for good health." -Dr. Mungley.

      Commerce clause.

      "Won't you try just a little bit harder? Couldn't you try just a little bit more?" - R. Hunter

      by mungley on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:56:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, lots of it isn't... (0+ / 0-)

        ...what about a music blogger who gets free mp3s from bands?  What about example 8?

        There are multiple free speech violations here, IMO.  But I'm not a lawyer.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:01:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Example 8 refers specifically to a hardware manuf (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, kaolin, brein

          -acturer.

          I don't know how you could read that differently.

          I believe there is already and understanding / exception for "critics" food, music, etc. No one expects Harry Knowels or Roger Ebert to pay to see a movie.

          When a conflict of interest arises, the parties need to make a disclosure.

          If Roger Ebert becomes a stock holder in Sony, and suddenly the only movies he likes are ones produced by Sony and he pans all other films, then he needs to tell us that.

          Anyway for music, you can easily just say, "I got a free copy of this piece of crap, so I would review it. It's a piece of crap."

          Are you familiar with Payola and the pay to play controversies that have plagued the radio industry for the past 40 years? This is like that.

          "Won't you try just a little bit harder? Couldn't you try just a little bit more?" - R. Hunter

          by mungley on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:12:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again... (0+ / 0-)

            ...you're talking about commerce; I'm talking about speech.

            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

            by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:21:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And you're making arguments about settled law. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kaolin

              It is not a violation of free speech to be required to disclose when you have been paid to endorse a product.

              The FTC regulates commerce, so it is appropriate to discuss commerce when they make a new ruling.

              "Won't you try just a little bit harder? Couldn't you try just a little bit more?" - R. Hunter

              by mungley on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:50:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassandra Waites

                We argue settled law here all the time.  We argue against corporate personhood, which is settled law.  We argue the Second Amendment, which is settled law.

                The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:07:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Part of the issue is what qualifies as 'paid'. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ninkasi23

                Does it have to be a "we give you this in the expectation you might review it" level to trigger this, or just a "I was given this for free without them knowing I blog, and I liked it so I'm reviewing it" level enough?

                Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:20:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The ruling tires to clarify that. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Adam B, kaolin

                  All you need do is disclose the relationship (if any) so that the people reading your blog know that you have a potential conflict of interest.

                  You can still put "I like Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream" on your face book page, even though you get a free scoop every year on free scoop day without disclosing that fact.

                  You have to have a special relationship with the product in order to make the disclosure, AND your opinion has to have some weight in the meilleur in question.

                  The blogger at Sodaisthebeumb.com can buy Pepsi at a discount with a coupon and not even have to tell anyone.

                  If you see Kos blogging over at Redstate about how rad the company that posted the banner ad at the top of the main page (bidz.com) is, then you want him to say, "Hey, these guys buy banner ads on my website, so you know he has a vested interest in your visiting them."

                  "Won't you try just a little bit harder? Couldn't you try just a little bit more?" - R. Hunter

                  by mungley on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:49:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I'm wondering how this applies to cases where (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, Jay Elias, ninkasi23

          someone at a place like a book festival is giving out samples or other freebies.

          I've gotten copies of Paste music magazine for free. I've gotten lit mags for free. I've gotten a companion book to a PBS series for free. All were things that anywhere else would have had to have been paid for, but were free right then and there to anyone.

          All except the companion book were given to me by the producing group.

          So, if I write a review of one of these items, am I required to disclose because it was a freebie, or am I not required to disclose because it was given to me as a member of the general public without their knowledge at all that I might eventually write about what I was given?

          Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

          by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:19:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  more from the FTC (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, pico, kaolin

            [I]n analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered "sponsored" by the advertiser and therefore an "advertising message." In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in whichcase there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an "endorsement" that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received. An advertiser’s lack of control over the specific statement made via these new forms of consumer-generated media would not automatically disqualify that statement from being deemed an "endorsement" within the meaning of the Guides. Again, the issue is whether the consumer-generated statement can be considered "sponsored."

          •  And beyond that, now that I'm thinking, (0+ / 0-)

            there are other things I've been given for free by people other than the industry that would benefit from a glowing review of the product.

            A local credit union was handing out BPA-free water bottles at an event I went to. My old bottle was from before BPA was phased out, so I took one. If I write in praise about BPA-free water bottles now, am I required to mention that mine was 100% free to me? Am I required to mention more than that, such as who exactly gave me mine even though it wasn't the water bottle company and identifying the credit union would be an incredible hint at precisely where I live?

            And do I have to go through that even if my review is that it's a pain that the thing just had to be handwash only?

            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:43:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It seems one thing to speak as a private citizen (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, elfling, kaolin, trumpeter

      about a product or service.

      It seems another point to represent that product or service (or, at least harbour the appearance of such, due to remuneration of some type) and have that compensated representation considering advertising by the FTC, therefore require disclosure so as not to mislead others.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:59:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My right to free speech... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, Jbeaudill, Cassandra Waites

        ...is not void if I'm misleading.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:01:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kaolin

          And, it's the FTC's right to slap a fine on you if it's deemed you have attempted to help further the sales of a product or service in a misleading manner, per (my guess) their Consumer Protection mission.

          Sure, there is alot of grey in this realm.  Will be interesting to see how it is enforced.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:06:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But your right to (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jbeaudill, blue armadillo, kaolin, brein

          free speech does not insulate you from other legal obligations -- i.e. fair trade practices, truth in lending, efficacy of a product, etc.

          You or a corporation can claim free speech when selling the latest colon cleanser, but once you make a statement regarding health benefits you are subject to FDA regulations.  I don't believe free speech means you can say anything you want about products and/or services without regulation.

          •  Sure it does (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wsexson

            It doesn't indemnify corporations engaging in interstate commerce, but I can claim anything I want about any product I want.  The only thing this rule says is that if I am compensated in some way by the product manufacturer, I have to disclose it.  But I can still say that chewing tobacco makes you taller if I want to.

            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

            by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:20:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  False & deceptive speech is less protected. NT (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jay Elias, kaolin
              •  So every personal ad ever is a crime? (0+ / 0-)

                Speech attempting to defraud is less protected, I know.  But if deceptive speech is not protected, every campaign ad ever is guilty.

                The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:29:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Political speech has the most 1st Amdt protection (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jay Elias, kaolin, brein

                  And commercial speech the least. Personal ads, of course, aren't selling a "product" and are beyond the FTC's reach.

                  •  Great... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    optimist prime

                    ...so I've got to mention every production company I've ever worked for before I can post a comment about a movie, but corporations are allowed unlimited donations to political campaigns.

                    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                    by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:41:23 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  corporations can't make such contributions. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kaolin, Sean Parnell

                      Tillman Act, 1907.

                      •  Isn't there a case about this... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...pending a decision by the Supreme Court right now?

                        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                        by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:44:32 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  PS (0+ / 0-)

                        And I'm correct in saying that I can't say anything about a movie without disclosure of my current and previous employers in the industry?

                        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                        by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:45:29 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I can't offer legal advice (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          elfling, Jay Elias, kaolin

                          I will instead point you to the test the Commission seems to have set up:

                          [I]n analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered "sponsored" by the advertiser and therefore an "advertising message." In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in whichcase there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an "endorsement" that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received. An advertiser’s lack of control over the specific statement made via these new forms of consumer-generated media would not automatically disqualify that statement from being deemed an "endorsement" within the meaning of the Guides. Again, the issue is whether the consumer-generated statement can be considered "sponsored."

                          •  Thanks for answering what you can.... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...much appreciated.

                            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                            by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:50:46 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Which is incredibly hard for the average (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Jay Elias

                            person to wade through.

                            Message appears to be this: Disclose everything, or risk having to pay the legal fees involved in proving that freebie was not fee-for-service.

                            If you know you can't pay the legal fees and you know disclosing would out your identity or location, shut up and let the paid professionals who got the snazzier freebies do the reviewing.

                            It feels to me just about the same as the broadcast obscenity rules whereby one cannot get a ruling on whether or not something will cause a fine until it has been broadcast and earned the fine. Without examples, it's going to take people putting their financial necks on the line during a recession to test this.

                            The vagueness of the rule can censor out a lot more speech than the rule itself was designed to.

                            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:55:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  If yes, I can imagine Jeff Lieber doing movie and (0+ / 0-)

                          television reviews just for the sake of the five-screens-long namedropping potential...

                          Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                          by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:49:54 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, I don't know about Jeff... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites

                            ....but I have various confidentiality agreements - I have to receive permission from past and current employers before I can give interviews about the projects I've worked on, for example.

                            Meanwhile, do I have to disclose which companies give projects I work on free products for product placement?  Do I need to find out who all of our product placement sponsors are?  What about a doctor who works for a hospital?  Do they need to find out and disclose the identities of companies which give them free or discounted drugs?  The names of people who donate money to the hospital?

                            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                            by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:00:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I meant things he wasn't involved in, but (0+ / 0-)

                            knew people who were.

                            Or even just happened to have bumped into people who were.

                            In that vein, movie review from someone living near Hollywood that just happened to mention every time the reviewer might have happened to be anywhere near anyone who worked on the movie would have high comedic potential if handled correctly.

                            Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:07:08 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sure, it could be funny... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cassandra Waites

                            ...on the other hand, I'm seriously considering retiring from blogging rather than wade through this to figure out what I am allowed to say and what I'm not.  And certainly, there are things I can no longer comment on.  I'd be comfortable with a rule which forced companies to disclose who they give freebies to.  But this is a ridiculous and onerous burden to place on individuals simply for them to comment on a message board.

                            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                            by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:11:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not an attorney, but I think (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kaolin

                            you're making this way more complicated than it is.  It seems to me the rules in essence are not restricting your speech - they simply say that, if you have a material interest in the product, service, issue you're venturing an opinion about, you need to disclose that interest so that individuals reading your opinion can make an informed judgment about whether your disclosed interest is possibly influencing what you're writing.

                            I SO want to believe it's 11DC.

                            by WisePiper on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 02:47:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  What I'm saying is.... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            WisePiper, Cassandra Waites

                            ...it isn't always so easy to know what you do and do not have a material interest in that needs to be disclosed.  And those rules can be broad or narrow.

                            At first, I was simply disturbed by the philosophical implications; if there is going to be a legal onus on bloggers and commenters, then there is going to have to be a government body monitoring and investigating bloggers and blog commenters to make sure they are compliant.  The issue of my own obligations and liability is a personal one; I don't expect anyone to object more or less to a law based on how it impacts me.

                            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                            by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 02:55:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  Republicans teach us that lesson every day. n/t (0+ / 0-)

          "In Youth We Learn...In Age We Understand"

          by Jbeaudill on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:12:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Commercial ads get less First Am protection. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, kaolin

      These rules concern a form of commercial advertising.  

      Based on the rules I've seen so far, I think the rules will be held constitutional.

      •  They do not solely concern that... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wsexson, Cassandra Waites

        ...certainly, parts of it do.  But the rules here apply to the bloggers and commenters, not the sponsors of speech.  If the rules required that corporations disclose who they gave free products and compensation to, that would be one thing.  But the onus is on the writers receiving compensation.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:23:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There have... (6+ / 0-)

      been a lot of those sorts of cases, which try to challenge FTC regulations as unconstitutional restrictions of speech.  They've almost uniformly been losers.  Two big examples are Kevin Trudeau, whose "Cures THEY Don't Want You To Know About" has gotten slammed several times, and various tax protestors.

    •  Abridging; (0+ / 0-)

      Lessen
      Shortin
      Cut off

      This rule is an add on.

  •  I can live with that and... Use my product! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, kaolin

    Whatever it happens to be. It is awesome, I can tell you that.

    "Won't you try just a little bit harder? Couldn't you try just a little bit more?" - R. Hunter

    by mungley on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:52:08 AM PDT

  •  What about Congress? (15+ / 0-)

    Will Senators who make a floor speech favoring an industry have to disclose money they received from that industry?

  •  Infomercials are doomed... (11+ / 0-)

    In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as "results not typical" – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

    ...at least all the diet infomercials.

    "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last." - President Barack Obama, 9/9/2009

    by MKinTN on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:54:49 AM PDT

  •  I always post here as a private citizen (5+ / 0-)

    and never as an employee of where I happen to work.

    In fact, I try to consciously stay away from discussions which may possibly involve my employer's products when there is the possibility of appearing as a representative of the company, or at least as someone attempting to affect their image in a potentially marketing manner - even by accident.

    Further, my employer forbids me from appearing to represent them without their explicit approval, and it must always be done (when approved) quite explicitly.  They are very strict about these issues - it even relates to our conditions for employment.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 10:56:33 AM PDT

  •  How about Congresspeople who blog and Twitter? (7+ / 0-)

    Will the FTC require Ben Ne.son to properly identify himself as Senator Ben Nelson, wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Cross?

    How about Senator Charles Grassley, of Iowa TooBigToFailHealthInsuranceInc?

  •  Do congresspeople have to disclose, too? (10+ / 0-)

    Should Max Baucus have to have a disclaimer on everything he writes and/or says, saying that he's a fully owned subsidiary of the health insurance lobby?  If I have to disclose in a book review that I got a review copy for free, it's only fair!

  •  The problem with Example 7 (6+ / 0-)

    Is that other media are not held to the same standard.

    The next newspaper music reviewer who admits that a record company sent him or her, gratis, the CD boxed set that received a glowing review will be the first one.  I used to work in the business; I know that very few music reviewers ever have to pay to get their music.

    On the other side of the coin, there was a classical reviewer I knew once who insisted that labels send him nothing. He would only review CDs he'd actually bought with his own money. He was a rarity.

    •  There is logic to that, though (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, wader, kaolin
      The theory is that an average consumer would expect that the reviewer of a product in a newspaper or magazine or tv show got the item for free, but that a reviewer who is a nominally non-paid blogger wouldn't.  There's definitely an argument as to whether or not that's accurate or fair, though.
      •  pp 47-48 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kaolin, brein

        The Commission acknowledges that bloggers may be subject to different disclosure requirements than reviewers in traditional media. In general, under usual circumstances, the Commission does not consider reviews published in traditional media (i.e., where a newspaper, magazine, or television or radio station with independent editorial responsibility assigns an employee to review various products or services as part of his or her official duties, and then publishes those reviews) to be sponsored advertising messages. Accordingly, such reviews are not "endorsements" within the meaning of the Guides.100 Under these circumstances, the Commission believes, knowing whether the media entity that published the review paid for the item in question would not affect the weight consumers give to the reviewer’s statements.101 Of course, this view could be different if the reviewer were receiving a benefit directly from the manufacturer (or its agent).

        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.

        •  is this completely off base? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kaolin

          My opinion of the tea baggers' messaging is dramatically compromised because I know that the persons who fund and organize them include Mellon Scaife and Gingrich, among others.

          They are not independent advocates, but paid, to some extent, proponents of particular messages.

          They are definitely advocating for a product, loosely defined, and have a point of view about such products.

          What am I missing here?

    •  What about movie reviews? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader

      they get to see and advance copy of the film for free but I would hardly value the $10 price of a ticket as enough to influence a decision (one would hope).  Conversely, access to celebrity interviews could tip the scale...

      I am proud to live in a nation that hasn't practiced torture since 1/20/2009 - I just wish this alone didn't justify celebrating.

      by RethinkEverything on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:17:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Would candidate or issue advocacy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin
    qualify as a product?
  •  Government regulation.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin

    ...is appropriate in this area.

    That's not a comment on the details, just the concept.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:01:33 AM PDT

  •  How about the news media? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jbeaudill, RethinkEverything

    Shouldn't they have to disclose?

    Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

    by Betty Pinson on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:04:36 AM PDT

  •  Okay, now I can admit it... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, wader, MKinTN, brein

    I worked for Hillary's campaign during the primaries.

    My job was reverse propaganda: go after her on liberal blogs to build up her street cred among the white working class in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

  •  I think bloggers should have to follow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin

    disclosure rules in terms of money, free gifts, Beta-testing etc.  At least the reader of so-called expert opinions or simply plain opinions has the full spectrum on the blogger's gain/no gain.  In the medical world we have to list all stocks held in any pharma, med device, biotech firm or healthcare firm as part of giving lectures on clinical trials or progress in diseases.  Our product slides have to be approved by the FDA and there are strict compliance rules.  In some settings, the FDA has had representatives at lectures to be sure the rules are followed.  Anecdotally, I have heard of one physician being arrested and another being reprimanded for deviating from the sanctioned comment in his lecture.  So, when physicians, nurses and lab Ph.D.'s are freed to speak, then it will be fine with me if bloggers are accorded the same privilege.

    "In Youth We Learn...In Age We Understand"

    by Jbeaudill on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:10:01 AM PDT

  •  I have never been paid... (0+ / 0-)

    ... to endorse a product or cause.

    Except my own... and not very much... like to make more to help pay the bills... but just a wage slave doing the Eric Hoffer thing in a boat-sized domicile teetering on the waves of economic tides...

    Tell the feds that!

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

    by justiceputnam on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:12:55 AM PDT

  •  so will NBC stations disclose they're owned by GE (6+ / 0-)

    before every pro-war "news" broadcast?  Or is this just for bloggers?

    the Legality.com We research the law so you don't have to!

    by the law of ducks on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:14:10 AM PDT

    •  They already disclose that, when..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kaolin, brein

      ...they do a story specifically about GE. Most news organizations do.

      "By the way, this network is owned by [fill in the blank]."

      •  OK, but that's not enough (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fhcec, brein

        disclosure in stories ABOUT the parent is expected.  That's not really sufficient to disclose conflicts.  I think they should be forced to disclose the interest in any story that touches any line of business the parent is involved in:

        any story about the financial meltdown: "NBC is owned by General Electric. GE also owns GE Capital, GE Financial Services, GE Money, and various other business and consumer lending interests which benefit directly from our favorable coverage of Treasury's wall street bailout."

        any story about any war: "NBC is owned by General Electric.  GE makes the jet engines and many other parts that go into the planes [and drones] that our military uses to kill people in Afghanistan [or any other country we're currently bombing].  GE derives direct financial benefit from every military conflict involving the United States or its allies."

        any story about medicine or health care reform: "NBC is owned by General Electric.  GE makes lots of expensive healthcare machinery, from beds to MRI systems.  GE benefits directly from the current system because it allows them to keep prices for their products pegged at the maximum price that Medicare will reimburse; any single-payer system would certainly reduce GE's profit margin, which is why we don't cover it."  

        and on and on and on...

        the Legality.com We research the law so you don't have to!

        by the law of ducks on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:40:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  PDF is a broken link... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    statsone

    ...in the article. Anyone have a working link? TIA.

  •  Kos himself gave disclosure of his ties. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, kaolin

    I don't know if this makes it clear:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    It's an excellent idea to be aware of how you will be criticized for what you do and even for what you don't do but which people imagine you do.

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:16:27 AM PDT

  •  truth, only for bloggers? (0+ / 0-)

    The government does not require truth from the agencies that the public demands it of.  Yet they find time to create a fairness doctrine only for the net?
     I agree it is worthy, as I have seen quite a few truly horrific US businesses that import directly from asia to bypass American workers advertising on some of our progressive sites.   It is a shock to see someone so against what these companies do, and the advertise for them taking in the bucks.  
      But why not require the other laws to be followed first?

  •  This should be fun to enforce. (3+ / 0-)

    Now, how about the FTC go after monopolistic behavior instead of wasting time with this stuff.

    Don't be so afraid of dying that you forget to live. "Sometimes you gotta roll the hard six." - Adama

    by LionelEHutz on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:17:32 AM PDT

  •  How much did the FTC pay you to post this? (4+ / 0-)

    60 is SUCH a great number, but I like 51 almost as much

    by hcc in VA on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:17:36 AM PDT

  •  Right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, kaolin, Edward Spurlock

    AMY1716: Wow, you know more about AMD six-core chips than any man I ever talked to! IM me.

    CHIPMAN69: Sure, but I must first disclose to you that I am a representative of INTEL.

    AMY1716 has left the room.

  •  Seems OK. Acknowledge any financial gain. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hcc in VA, kaolin

    Folks can still decide to take the advice or not but at least they know that the "product review" was a paid for promo.

  •  As An Advertising Guy From What I Know Now This (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, kaolin, Edward Spurlock

    is good news across the board.

    I might also mention that most of the major tech/gadget blogs (I work in high-tech marketing) have had the same policy that tech print pubs have had for decades.

    Often if they are going to review, say five expensive enterprise servers (maybe costing more than $10,000 each) they get them for the term of the review and send them back. Same goes for the games systems, or even games.

    Just standard industry practice for organizations that are trying to be actually fair and honest journalist.

    So IMHO this won't change much, expect for folks that were doing things they really shouldn't have been doing in the first place.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:21:11 AM PDT

  •  I don't suppose this applies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    to a Vice President who urges the President to hire contractors in a war zone which just might enhance his personal worth?  

    60 is SUCH a great number, but I like 51 almost as much

    by hcc in VA on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:21:59 AM PDT

  •  I once endorsed... (4+ / 0-)

    ... the virtues of clean living; but I gained no real benefit from it.

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude --Pablo Neruda

    by justiceputnam on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:24:40 AM PDT

  •  So weight loss commercials can't show a bunch.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, kaolin, soms

    of skinny people (the three people out of five hundred who actually lost weight using the product) all chirping "If I can do it, anyone can do it!" and get away with that by showing a teeny tiny line up for three seconds somewhere in the commercial that says "Results not typical"?

    This will obliterate the "Yes, you can lose weight fast and easy using our product!" industry.

    •  That Would Be Correct, Somewhat (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kaolin, soms

      They'd be able to show them, but like the last half/quarter of all the drug ads that list the terrible side affects they'd have to have something similar (but not got to that part of the bill yet in my reading).

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:29:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding the side effects: (2+ / 0-)

        That part of the drug ads just cracks me up. Yes, I really want to use your product that MIGHT reduce my cholesterol, MIGHT cut my plague production, MIGHT make me sleep at night, MIGHT make me sneeze and sniff less during allergy season....but also could destroy my liver, make me pass out at the wheel, make me a drug addict, MIGHT EVEN KILL ME.....

  •  I can't wait to see what the "male enhancement".. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue armadillo

    ...commercials look like when these rules take effect.

  •  How about every elected official disclose (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding

    relevant contributions every time they open their mouths to discuss, for example, healthcare.  

    60 is SUCH a great number, but I like 51 almost as much

    by hcc in VA on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:28:54 AM PDT

    •  The Politicans Or Government Agenices (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hcc in VA, soms

      never restrict what elected officials can do. Politicians didn't fall under the "No Call" telemarketing database nor the CAN-SPAM act to reduce unwanted emails (just to name two in the last few years).

      Kind of funny how that works isn't it ....

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:33:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  These rules should only be for "the press"... (5+ / 0-)

    ...that way if they refuse to define bloggers as members of the Press then these rules wouldn't appply. How can the government say on one hand, that Press protections shouldn't apply to bloggers because they aren't "the press" and therefore are inconsequential. If bloggers' opinions are inconsequential then there shouldn't be restrictions on what they say. That would be fair, either be acknowledge as press and faces restriction that he press faces, or not.

  •  Sounds LIke It's Time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B

    For another blogger ethics conference.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:57:46 AM PDT

  •  will this be applied to newspapers and magazines (0+ / 0-)

    who get free review copies of books, software, etc, in order to review them?  Will explicit disclosure of the receipt of the free copy be required?  Or if not, is not this an inequitable application of a standard to bloggers?

    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:37:44 PM PDT

    •  pp 47-48 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      soms

      The Commission acknowledges that bloggers may be subject to different disclosure requirements than reviewers in traditional media. In general, under usual circumstances, the Commission does not consider reviews published in traditional media (i.e., where a newspaper, magazine, or television or radio station with independent editorial responsibility assigns an employee to review various products or services as part of his or her official duties, and then publishes those reviews) to be sponsored advertising messages. Accordingly, such reviews are not "endorsements" within the meaning of the Guides. Under these circumstances, the Commission believes, knowing whether the media entity that published the review paid for the item in question would not affect the weight consumers give to the reviewer’s statements. Of course, this view could be different if the reviewer were receiving a benefit directly from the manufacturer (or its agent).

      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.

  •  seems unequal (0+ / 0-)

    The specific example of an online video game reviewer getting a free copy of a game to review seems very similar to the common practice of publishers sending free review copies of new books to the book review departments of newspapers.  However, I virtually never see a book review that states that the book was obtained for free.

    It would be nice to see more disclosure, but the standard needs to be uniform.  A writer shouldn't get special privileges or special penalties based on choice of medium.

  •  What impact on the "free speech" of lobbyists? (0+ / 0-)

    ... the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered "sponsored" by the advertiser and therefore an "advertising message."

    Is it not objectively the case that the relationship between a corporate sponsor and a lobbyist is such that the any statement made by any paid lobbyist statement can be considered "sponsored" by the corporate advertiser and is therefore an "advertising message"?

    The invasion of Iraq was a war crime, a crime against humanity, and a crime against civilization. Prosecute the crime.

    by Positronicus on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 01:56:04 PM PDT

  •  Doesn't seem all that bad to me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin, soms

    Scientific journals nowadays always have the authors of a paper disclose any potential conflict of interest, and no scientist has died due to that requirement.

    I have no problem with insisting that people who express opinions about Product X (or even Politician Y) say if they're being paid to endorse or condemn a product. For example, I can say that I used to work as a laser driver tester for Lexmark, and in my opinion, their laser printers were pretty good but their all-in-one inkjet printers were crap. It's my opinion, and nobody paid me to say that.

    Of course, nobody cares about my opinion. It's a lot more important for celebrity endorsers to fess up to being paid endorsers - and I don't see a problem with that.

    As for bloggers endorsing products or writing reviews about products, we're (almost) all adults here, and we shouldn't be afraid to disclose that some company sent us a free t-shirt or video game to write a nice review of their product.

    (Hey, HP! I have one of your older all-in-one inkjets, and it's great! And I've never worked for HP! Wanna send me some ink cartridges? Heh.)

    Maxie Baucus took an axe, gave Single Payer 40 whacks. And when he saw what he had done, gave Public Option 41. (NO, Max! Bad Senator!)

    by SciMathGuy on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 04:35:11 PM PDT

  •  These would apply to astroturf sites, right? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin, Cassandra Waites, soms

    THAT would make these new regs gold, in my book.

    No one's going to be shocked that book reviewers get free books or gamers get free games or...whatever...newspapers have never had qualms about accepting such items, so long as the journalist wrote a fair review.

  •  If nothing else, the manipulated masses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soms

    won't feel as much need to keep up with the bloggers who always seem to be able to afford the latest gadgets/albums/books/styles/movie tickets/designs/etc. When we realize the leaders of our trends get their shit for free, it will take some of the scuff off of their street cred. We'll realize they are no more the gurus of the Now than any of us - they're just schlubs taking handouts.

    Empathetic fascist socialist sociopaths for Obama

    by kaolin on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 05:21:11 PM PDT

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