Thursday, June 25, 2009

FTC Targeting Unethical Bloggers

People are beginning to get upset about undisclosed conflicts of interest in the blogosphere. A Yahoo! Tech story notes: "Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post." What have I been doing wrong?! Seriously, though, this issue has been getting some high-level attention. The Federal Trade Commission is planning to approve new guidelines this summer cracking down on false claims or the failure to disclose conflicts of interest. Under the new guidelines: "The FTC could order violators to stop and pay restitution to customers, and it could ask the Justice Department to sue for civil penalties." Find out more here.

And if you’re interested in my practices here at Literary License, I never accept money, gift cards, trips, or any other perks in exchange for book reviews. I do accept review copies of books. In such cases, I may or may not review the book, and if I choose to review the book, there’s absolutely no guarantee it will be a good review. I’d much rather give up all review copies than lose my integrity as a reviewer.


bermudaonion said...

All I've ever been offered is books, as well. I'll be interested to see how the FTC plans to enforce any rules they make.

Lisa said...

Tracking bloggers that are in violation of FTC rules would require quite a large staff of full-time employees. That said, I do feel it's wrong for bloggers to accept gifts unless they have fully disclosed that they have benefited by writing the post.

Robert Nagle said...

If review copies were ebooks which couldn't be resold, this issue would not arise.

In the high tech/gadget world, there are other issues. One writer for a major tech site was flown into a company's headquarters to preview a new technology (which he could give an exclusive on).

I think the key thing is transparency. I'm relatively tolerant of different kinds of compensations as long as they are disclosed.

I'm less concerned about what review/technology decide to cover than what they decide to ignore (for space or time limitations).

That said, I think Literary License does a fantastic job. I've gotten several good titles from here.

Robert Nagle said...

Here are more thoughts .