NEW FTC Policy for Bloggers: 2 Thumbs Up!

Or is it one finger??

As Slate puts it, “the FTC put bloggers on notice that they could incur an $11,000 fine if they receive free goods, free services, or money and write about the goods or services without conspicuously disclosing their ‘material connection’ to the provider.”  The worry is over whether there is an expectation of endorsement in such circumstances.

In the spirit of the new rules, let me say the following:

1.  I got my copy of the policy from The Government here [.pdf], for free.

2.  I am materially connected to The Government in the following way:  It scares the shit out of me!  It figuratively and (I cringe to think) even literally has a gun to my head at all times.

With this disclosure, let me get to my review of the new Policy:

This Policy is fantastic!  Amazing!!  Colossal!!  It is perhaps the finest Policy any government has yet produced.  This is a whole new ball game.  This changes everything in Policy generation.  No future Policy drafter will be able to ignore this one!  This is the Holy Bible, the Holy Koran, The Rig Vedas, and the complete works of Shakespeare rolled into one.  It is, LITERALLY, a miracle!  I cannot image another Government—say, Sudan—coming up with anything close to this!  They way they use irremediable vagueness for their own nefarious fully justified purposes is genius!  Bloggers will be eternally grateful.  Two ENTHUSIASTIC thumbs up!

But I have to say, though, I really can’t understand exactly what The Government is so worried about.

But here is what Ron Hogan at Galley Cat is worried about.

[er, okay, I should say that I got some ideas from Jack Shafer at Slate and Ron Hogan at Galley Cat.  I can access their sites for free on the internet.  I am materially related to these blogs in that they are blogs and I read them.  My linking to them should in no way be seen as an endorsement of these smart, insightful writers or their employers.  Just as my linking to The Policy should not be seen as endorsement of the officious bureaucrats who wrote it.]

Some closing thoughts from Jack Shafer:

Because of a pesky thing called the First Amendment, the guidelines don’t apply to news organizations, which receive thousands of free books, CDs, and DVDs each day from media companies hoping for reviews. But if the guidelines don’t apply to established media like the New York Review of Books, which also happens to publish reviews on the Web, why should they apply to Joe Blow’s blog? Regulating bloggers via the FTC while exempting establishment reporters looks like a back-door means of licensing journalists and policing speech.

Nobody likes deceptive advertising or fishy bloggers. But I’d rather wade through steaming piles of unethical crap on the Web than give the FTC Javertian powers to pursue shady advertorial. This is one of those cases in which the government’s solution is 10 times worse than the problem.

Such solutions almost always are….  Talk about “steaming piles of unethical crap…”!

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