Blown To Bits

The FTC Decides to Regulate Bloggers

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

We have a very well-intentioned initiative from the Federal Trade Commission to require people who blog about a product reveal if they have a financial interest in the product’s success. No phony “product reviews,” for example, written by people who are being paid by the manufacturer.

This is a classic case of that with which the road to hell is paved. The FTC is attempting to translate conventions used in TV and print into a very different medium. There are so many edge cases to consider. What about a 14 year old blogger raving about a skateboard her daddy brought home from the company where he works? What about a book reviewer who reviews a book he was given to review (as reviewers invariably are)? What about just mentioning that you are drinking a Coke when your brother-in-law works for the Coca-Cola company? What about tweets–do you have to include your disclosure in the 140 word limit (the FTC commissioner apparently thinks that might be possible).

And the big question: Is this really a role we want for government?

Many good blog posts on this. I recommend Dan Gillmor’s, and those to which he points. Dan proposes that the FTC just doesn’t understand the Web.

Comments are closed.