Tuesday, October 6, 2009

FTC Targets Blogger Freebies


The link above announces the FTC's long awaited rules concerning its crackdown on misleading endorsements by bloggers. "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." Will this have any effect on Our Lady of the Perpetual Reviews, speed poster Harriet Klausner, and other of the notorious shills who infest - with the company's astonishing connivance - Amazon.com? Or is Amazon, as one insightful wit described it, now and forever "above the law?"
Ed. note: a couple more related articles: (1) in the Financial Times and (2) from Yahoo Finance.


Dave IRV said...

Kind of an interesting call. If free books are all she gets, that's no different from book (or movie) reviewers at newspapers, is it?

Would the law apply to the comments section all over the web as well? Reviews on Amazon seem to be a hybrid between a blog and comments.

Of course, there is also an unwritten deal between various political bloggers to shill each others books.

Who knows. It's interesting, though. One thing I'll say, in fairness to Amazon, is that they are not the abusers. They just provide the platform which others abuse -- ruining an otherwise good thing for everyone. It would not be right to blame the Highway Department for drunk drivers.

Stanley H Nemeth said...

Dave IRV:
I'm not so sure Amazon itself is free of the charge of being an abuser. To be sure, the company on the face of it provides a platform for any number of other abusers, but it also oversees the site, and in this area, I'd argue, it's frequently guilty of a not so benign neglect. If Amazon resembles a Highway department, it also resembles the Highway Patrol and thus has the responsibility of enforcing standards in the case of drunk drivers. Is it by chance that towards the most notorious of these Amazon turns a blind eye? Seems like connivance or financial complicity to me.

Malleus said...

Dave IRV said:
> If free books are all she gets, that's no different from book (or movie)
> reviewers at newspapers, is it?
No it's not. Reviews in papers aren't sold to you as "customer reviews": we know these are professional writers who get paid for doing this sort of thing. Iow, we're aware of the conflict of interest. Not so with Amazon reviews. Amazon AT LEAST could post some sort of disclaimer to the effect that any-goddamn-one can post any-goddamn-thing on their site and that the reader should beware. Instead they prefer to tout their fake-crap pile as "customer reviews" from "people like you".

As far as the Highway Dept, I agree with Stanley.

And I agree with you about Amazon's enabling the racket but most likely not contributing themselves: they don't have to.