There’s an interesting article in this week’s Business Week online that talks about the new guidelines coming out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will require bloggers to state whether they’ve been paid to write reviews. The FTC hopes that this will ensure that reviews are legitimate and that companies aren’t using blogs just as advertising.
It’s a new attempt to regulate what’s on the Internet, and is a sign that more and more people are beginning to think of blogs as more than just citizen journalism. The blogs themselves are beginning to replace mainstream media, and the FTC wants to try to have it stay honest.
I think that this is a good idea for many reasons, but I’ll get to that later.
What’s interesting is that the FTC is concerned that bloggers are not honest, whereas there’s no talk about regulating magazines. Since I work in the realm of beauty and fashion, I’ll stick to media that covers those topics in this discussion. The dirty (not so secret) truth about magazines is that they get truckloads of products for free, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything bad about a beauty product in a magazine. Furthermore, it’s been proven that the more a product is advertised (legitimately) in a magazine, the more it’s mentioned editorially in a magazine. So why all this concern about regulating blogs when mainstream media has been having the same problem for decades now? Bringing honesty to media is a more difficult job than just passing a regulation for disclosing advertorials, nevermind the fact that advertorials are usually disclosed on most blogs anyway.
Of course, I need to address the content on this blog as well. Do I get products for free? Absolutely. It would be ludicrous to think that I actually bought all these products, and trust me, the advertising that’s on this blog wouldn’t even cover a week’s worth of what’s talked about on here.
But the thing is that I pick the products I like best and talk about those. Those are the ones that are most fun to write about, and the ones that I continue using. The products I don’t like – well, I mostly don’t like them because they’re not very interesting, and unless a product is truly horrible, I probably won’t mention it at all.
Is that the same as being paid cash for writing about a product? I don’t think so and I don’t think the FDC will either.
What do you think about the article and the whole idea of regulating bloggers? Leave your thoughts in the comments.