The federal trade commission in the States announced this week that any goods or monies received by an individual blogging should be declared. I see no problem in that whatsoever, but it has caused quite a stir and mixture of opinions – most of those against it are bloggers and I think they doth protest too much!
The internet is built upon openness, transparency and trust. I use it for all manner of things, one of which is product and service research. I use certain sites and forums and infer quality, usefulness, appropriateness from those sites, some of which include blogs. In my opinion – if you are being paid (cash or kind) to review or push a product it will colour your judgement. If I know that the source from which I am reading is not independent I can take that into consideration, not necessarily discount it, but at least I know the blogger’s judgement is tainted somewhat.
I have seen all sorts of criticisms about this being “Big Brotherly” and unconstitutional. Whilst I am not an expert on American law I do have a moral backbone, deceiving your readership is amoral, taking covert back-handers or “bribes” is amoral. Just rectify the situation by stating that you have received a gift from the company’s marketing department. Freedom of the press has nothing to do with being bought out by corporate America. We the people, can then make our judgements on the unconstitutional nature – or in the case of being British just the ethics.
The opinions against from my reading so far, appear to evolve around disclosure in 140 characters on Twitter, my answer would be that on your Twitter page link to your blog or website and disclose on there – pragmatic. Also, that it doesn’t cover off false advertising claims and other media endorsements such as celebrity endorsements on TV – but I belive it does. But if it doesn’t, campaign for that to be included – not against it; strive for change for the better and not reactionary nay-saying. The internet is ours, indeed the media is now ours too – we need to make things better moving forwards not stamp our feet because we don’t like the rules.
For reference to the scale of the issue:
“The Word of Mouth Marketing Association, an industry group for social and viral marketing specialists, says $1.35bn was spent on social media marketing in 2007, and that will reach $3.7bn by 2011” – source The Guardian http://bit.ly/dnCrY
Dan Gillmores blog referring to the scale of the problem from the blogger’s point of view, http://bit.ly/3eIT8f