by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 11th 2010 1:10pm
The FTC's highly questionable disclosure rules have been in effect for a bit over a month now, and it appears that even the FTC doesn't understand who they apply to or how they apply. And that's the problem. Apparently, someone noticed that actress Gwyneth Paltrow lavished praise on a resort in Marrakech, Morocco, and wondered if Paltrow had paid for her stay there -- noting that it was the grand opening of the place, with lots of stars -- and Hollywood publicists asked about this said there was "not a chance in hell" that someone like Paltrow paid to attend. In fact, they wonder if Paltrow was even paid for her "appearance." So, how do the FTC rules apply? She was pitching a place that most likely gave her something quite valuable for free. That should be disclosed, right? That was the whole point of the FTC rules, right? Well, maybe not. When asked about it, the FTC hemmed and hawed and claimed that "celebrity endorsements are different." Why? Because consumers might "understand that celebrities are always getting free stuff." Right, but wasn't the whole reason that these new disclosure rules were instituted in the first place that bloggers and others were supposedly (though, I believe it to be exaggerated) "always getting free stuff" too? Basically, these FTC rules sound like the sorts of things that are totally subjective, whereby the FTC can crack down on someone they don't like if they have nothing else to use, but will leave others untouched.
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