FTC's Disclosure Rules Apply To Bloggers... But Not Celebrities?

from the double-standards... dept

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    Double standards. Gotta love 'em.

    The FTC really backed their asses into a corner with this one.

     

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    Matt (profile), Jan 11th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    Desk regulations

    These are called "desk regulations" - where the bureaucrat enforcing the policy just makes up their own regulations that only apply if your case is on their desk. It happens all the time in almost every government agency, despite the fact that the Administrative Procedures Act clearly makes it illegal. Go figure.

    As you noted when it was proposed, this new policy is dumb because it's dumb, not because it is and will be improperly enforced.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 2:18pm

      Re: Desk regulations

      It happens all the time in almost every government agency, despite the fact that the Administrative Procedures Act clearly makes it illegal. Go figure.

      Hmm, selective enforcement of a law against selective enforcement is now resulting in more selective enforcement. How typical.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    And I was worried that certain unenforceable laws and government regulations would weaken the populace's respect for certain unenforceable laws and government regulations.

    I'm sure glad I was wrong.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    I got a great idea: Let's ignore the FTC.

     

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    Rick, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    Uhhh...

    You do realize, the FTC has no authority over bloggers don't you?

    They can't fine you, without Congress giving them the power to violate free speech requirements. Congress can't and won't do that - ever.

    The Disclosure rules mean nothing, unless YOU let them.

     

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    lux (profile), Jan 11th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, which happens most of the time.

    Hi Mike, I recall numerous posts regarding the 'safe harbor' clause which allows big-media journalists to not reveal their sources when breaking a story. And I also recall many posts which stated bloggers (and student journalists) _should_ be covered by this clause, however I just stumbled upon your recent post in which you stated blogging _is not_ journalism, but rather a conversation. (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091007/2149146455.shtml)

    Given that statement, can you clarify your stance on the safe harbor topic? It seems like a decent parallel to the above story, since the FTC would like this rule to affect some but not others, based on some obscure definition.

    Thanks!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 5:03pm

      Re: Please correct me if I'm wrong, which happens most of the time.

      He said that "for many" blogging is not journalism, but a conversation. That doesn't mean blogging cannot be journalism; after all, blogs is just a medium. It would be like saying paper cannot be journalism.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 6:45pm

        Re: Re: Please correct me if I'm wrong, which happens most of the time.

        Oh, oops, that should be "blogs are" (or "a blog is").

         

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      What a good idea, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 5:51pm

      Re: Please correct me if I'm wrong, which happens most of the time.

      Oh - I know ... lets change the subject.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 11th, 2010 @ 7:22pm

      Re: Please correct me if I'm wrong, which happens most of the time.

      Hi Mike, I recall numerous posts regarding the 'safe harbor' clause which allows big-media journalists to not reveal their sources when breaking a story. And I also recall many posts which stated bloggers (and student journalists) _should_ be covered by this clause, however I just stumbled upon your recent post in which you stated blogging _is not_ journalism, but rather a conversation. (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091007/2149146455.shtml)

      Hi Lux. No, that's not what I said -- though you raise a good point. What I said was that *for many* they do not use their blogs for journalistic purposes, and thus should not be considered journalists.

      And I stand by that.

      At the same time when they *do* use it for journalistic purposes, they should be covered by laws that protect journalists.

      You shouldn't regulate based on the platform but the usage. I think that anyone doing journalistic work should be covered by shield laws -- not "anyone who blogs."

      Sorry if that wasn't clear.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 3:20pm

    Selective Selectivity

    Wait, I thought Mike was in favor of selective enforcement. Now it seems that he's also selective in his support of selective enforcement. That's rich!

     

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      PRMan, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 4:09pm

      Re: Selective Selectivity

      I thought the point of that article is that the law is far too narrow, not that they should make overly-narrow laws and then selectively enforce them.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 5:04pm

      Re: Selective Selectivity

      Umm, there's nothing wrong with being in favor of selective enforcement *that makes sense* but being against selective enforcement that *doesn't* make sense.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 8:59am

        Re: Re: Selective Selectivity

        Umm, there's nothing wrong with being in favor of selective enforcement *that makes sense* but being against selective enforcement that *doesn't* make sense.

        All they need to do is just pass one law that makes everything illegal and then use *sensible* selective enforcement.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

        Re: Re: Selective Selectivity

        "Umm, there's nothing wrong with being in favor of selective enforcement *that makes sense* but being against selective enforcement that *doesn't* make sense."

        Exactly. Everybody knows celebrities are special and shouldn't be subject to the same laws as other people. That just wouldn't make any *sense* at all. That's why selective enofrcement is so important: to keep things like that from happening. I'm glad the FTC and at least some of the readers here seem to understand that.

        Note to Mike: Selective enforcement isn't just for grannies, it's for celebrities too!

         

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    Tucker, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    It's the government

    Anyone expect anything different from our government?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 6:12pm

    "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."

    They're not subjective, it's class warfare against the poor. If you're rich and powerful or work for the RIAA/MPAA or some other rich and powerful organization you're exempt. It only applies to poor independent individuals who can't afford to bribe the FCC.

     

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      Regalos, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:19pm

      Re:

      is correct, and there's where the conflicts of interest, so some are more fortunate than others and are usually the poor people who end up paying more.

       

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    im spartacus and thus am a celebrity now, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 6:54pm

    yes you too are a celebrity

    so now that were all famous we get free stuff now....

    and yes i have a pending list just like the cria , i might pay you later or never i dunno but i will maybe ....honest

     

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    known coward, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    I like the rule, but i demand equal inforcement

    I do not like that the ruling that it does not apply to celebrities. Anything that can show a lack of objectivity should be disclosed.

    Gwyneth Paltrow going to a opening of a hotel on her own, paying full freight for it by herself, and then raving about it, is very different thing than her going on a paid junket and then raving about it. The potential consumers have a right to know. If she paid for it by herself she does not need to disclose it, if it is paid for by her she does. It is very simple. I am ok with her saying "even if i were not paid to go here, I would love to go"; but for fairness I need that disclosure.

    I do not think it should require a new regulation but should be already covered under simple consumer fraud. Which is why it should belong to the FTC.

     

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    Brian, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 5:05am

    Who really cares?

     

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    MidnightReaper, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 11:53am

    Celebrities' and Tabloid reporters' slap of reality

    Celebrities maybe big shots in the hollywood fantasy world, but they are nothing but a bunch of shallow, weak, and simple minded, idiotic, foul-mouthed, and most dim witted group of cowards in the real world where the dangers are real like wild animals that have the instinct to kill human beings and if dinosaurs and prehistoric animals are brought bakc to life, I would bet that they wouldn't last a minute when confronting them. Yeah, I bet they wouldn't last 30 seconds against a mythical creature that turns out to be real. And as for the tabloid reporters, same thing as celebrities. Nothing but a bunch of gossiping cowards. Besides, this world is tragically violent and they didn't even bother to look what's happening out there. FYI, The point is that all celebrities and tabloid reporters are shallow through and through; Nothing but money and fame are all they cared about. And that's a little dose of reality for everbody.

     

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    hipotecas, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:00pm

    They should also pay

    This type of "benefits" that are given to artists is nothing new, often all kinds of gifts are some more flamboyant than others and have never been called to account for it, is not the case of the communities that need ciudano perform its obligations and meet payments to be exiegen if it does there have to pay a fine and even go to prison.

     

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