On December 1, 2009 the FTC is trying to put in place laws which will make anyone who uses a blog, Facebook, Twitter to make a product endorsement to disclose that they are being compensated. This could change the way that we all use the Internet forever more.
The Internet has been a wonderful world of affordable advertising and marketing solutions for millions including those involved in affiliate marketing or reseller programs. It’s a shame that all of sudden the FTC wants to hold those of us online to a higher standard than magazines, newspapers, television shows and other forms of media and marketing.
The problem here is that most of us don’t realize how many “free” gifts journalists and other media moguls receive in hopes of an endorsement, plug or review just to get their product name out there. Notice that a magazine can tell you what their favorite shade of lipstick is from a company but they never have to disclose that the company either provided them with free samples or money (compensation of some form) to be able to publish it.
For most consumers it is painfully obvious when any media platform is trying to “plug” a product. We even see product in placement in television shows and movies now. On top of which there are so many blogs that flat out claim that they have received a sample product of some kind. It seems like overkill to punish everyone online for freedom of speech but then not hold the rest of the media in the world accountable.
As of October 15, 2009 the Interactive Advertising Bureau put out an open letter asking the FTC to rescind the original law and take a closer look at all media so that things are more fair and equal. This only makes sense. To only close in on Internet marketing is unconstitutional.
What can this mean for bloggers, Twitter fans and Facebook users? The ways it affects us all are endless. For example if you are part of an affiliate program and you build a personal website specifically for something like travel affiliates then you would have to disclose all over your site in writing that you may be compensated for what you write. This seems really weird considering when you go to a site like a travel affiliate you pretty much know what you are getting and you know why the site exists. These rules seem to take away the power of thought.
Another example may be that a blogger who writes regularly about gaming may have to disclose that they are being compensated if say a software company sends them a free demo of a game and asks them to try it. Even if the software company does not ask them outright to write a post they will have to tell them in some sort of instructions that if they do write something they have to claim to have been compensated. Seems strange considering that the gamer never asked or expected to be compensated.
What this boils down to is that none of us will ever be able to say that we like a product and place a link on a page that could possibly bring us any income or compensation. With our economy the way it is and the problems with cash flow, why would we squash any form of it that really isn’t hurting anyone?