FTC To Go After Bloggers That Make False Claims

In today's "Truly Delicious Irony" segment, the Federal Trade Commission, just months after so-called journalists decided who should win a presidential primary and subsequent election, is going to begin going after bloggers who make false claims about products and/or don't fully disclose conflicts of interest.

Imagine that.

As reported by the Associated Press Sunday:

New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

It would be the first time the FTC tries to patrol systematically what bloggers say and do online. The common practice of posting a graphical ad or a link to an online retailer — and getting commissions for any sales from it — would be enough to trigger oversight.

"If you walk into a department store, you know the (sales) clerk is a clerk," said Rich Cleland, assistant director in the FTC's division of advertising practices. "Online, if you think that somebody is providing you with independent advice and ... they have an economic motive for what they're saying, that's information a consumer should know."

Shouldn't the same standard apply to journalists reporting the news? If the FTC is concerned about the motives of bloggers, then what about a reporter's agenda when sharing the events of the day? Shouldn't the reader or viewer be made aware of that as well?

That asked, try to keep a straight face as you read the following:

As blogging rises in importance and sophistication, it has taken on characteristics of community journalism — but without consensus on the types of ethical practices typically found in traditional media.

Journalists who work for newspapers and broadcasters are held accountable by their employers, and they generally cannot receive payments from marketers and must return free products after they finish reviewing them.

Ethical practices typically found in traditional media? Journalists who work for newspapers and broadcasters are held accountable by their employers?

Really? On what planet?

That asked, might I suggest that as the FTC begins monitoring bloggers for undisclosed conflicts of interest they start doing the same thing to the traditional media outlets that have thoroughly abdicated any journalistic integrity the past few years.

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Noel Sheppard's picture