by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 2nd 2010 8:11pm
We're still wondering if the FTC is really going to go after blogs that don't disclose financial relationships concerning products they're pitching. So far, the only action the FTC has taken (publicly) has been to investigate retailer Ann Taylor for giving bloggers gift cards -- an action for which it was given a pass. In that case, it was worth noting that the focus was on the company, not the bloggers involved. However, there are still many questions about how arbitrarily the rules will be applied. Danny Sullivan is pointing out that with so much undisclosed product placement on TV, shouldn't that be a bigger concern than if a blogger mentions he or she got a free gift card before writing about a product? While I, like many people, tend to think disclosure is important for your own reputation, the ambiguity and subjectiveness of the FTC's rules is worrying. While I don't know for sure, my guess is that the FTC would say that most people already understand how TV product placement works, so they're not too bothered by it. That, at least, was the explanation an FTC person gave when questions were raised about why the FTC doesn't go after celebrities talking up products and services they were given for free... But it does seem kind of ridiculous that a celebrity is given more leeway not to disclose just because they're famous.
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