FTC to Regulate Blogging

Written by Zac Johnson
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In addition to the increasing amount of states trying to tax affiliates and internet companies, we now have the FTC coming into the game and trying to regulate blogging. More than anything else, the regulation consists of making bloggers disclose any free gifts, payments or anything they receive as a result from writing about a company or product.

Here is a short snippet from the full article available at FoxNews.

The FTC said Monday its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final Web guidelines, which had been expected. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews.

The commission stopped short of specifying how bloggers must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be “clear and conspicuous,” no matter what form it will take.

With the FTC and state attorney generals recently cracking down on fake blogs, fake testimonials and customer complaints from rebill offers… thinking the FTC will stop any time soon after just trying to “regulate blogging” is wishful thinking.

The article also states “FTC will more likely go after an advertiser instead of a blogger for violations“. PayPerPost ran into these same issues when they first came out, but now require full disclosure on all sponsored posts. This is one concept where you are clear, but the new regulation will bring forth a lot more questions. For example, how this will affect affiliate marketing blogs? Not only “make money online” blogs, but how will specific blogs created just to drive product sales be affected? Full disclosure would need to be posted somewhere on the blog post or web site stating you will receive a commission for any sales generated from your site.

The regulation does not go into effect until December 1st, and still lacks a lot of specifics and information we would all like to know.

How will the FTC regulating blogging effect affiliate markerting, if at all?

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34 Replies to “FTC to Regulate Blogging”

  1. This is going to be an interesting one.

    The industry has already moved to disclosure anyway and I wonder how many blogs this will really make a difference to. I also wonder how many domains will be "sold" to off shore companies. Are they going to put the same standard in place for product placement on TV? If not if it is a video blog or my online TV show does that count?

  2. where is the drama? Simply put anytime you click a link on this site I may receive money… period .. or I receive this product because of this or that reason period… Or I make it sound so positive because I do believe in the product and many people will pay and love it too .. ect…seriously I did that and I saw increase sales…. anyway Acai stuff made a lot of money with fake everything .. now it's pay back time… I'm happy because back in the time I used to promote it without the fake statement of lose weight…. I did not made as much as many people but at least I did it the right way…..

    There is no problem if you keep it 100% …

  3. While there are certainly plenty of ripoffs on the net with everything from rebills to Nigerian letter scams, the fact the the FTC has to butt in, in this manner, seriously concerns me. And being that they are purposely vague in this sweeping regulation concerns me even more.

    They are being vague so they can cast a broad net over whatever they please, whenever they want. The free market regulates itself as it has already started to do with this stuff. Consumers complain, some take action, some CPA companies regulate affiliates, Google gets tough with flogs, the process grinds along and works like it was designed.

    But, then the Feds step in and screw the whole thing up because they don't really "get" the free market, all they know how to do is regulate and grow bigger…sort of like a cancer.

  4. @Affiliate Confession:

    I hate the argument « the free market » will fix that. When there is no rules people think, it’s ok to behave a certain way. People may complaint but how many of them will get their money back after the complaint… Don’t be so naïve. What’s vague? they ask you why you review an apple but not an orange. Example: I review those apples because a farmer sends me this free bag. I love them they taste good … bla.. bla.. by the way I have a deal with this farmer. If you buy from my link I add this or that bonus… not only I get pay but you will enjoy the best apple on earth… bla bla … what’s vague…. It’s pretty clear.. They want you to be 100% clear about everything.

  5. All this talk. But why? Seriously. It's a waste of energy. Blame exists. There are appropriate times to point the finger. This is a textbook case.

    I blame the Floggers, specifically, the amateur, copycat Floggers for this whole mess.

    The concept of "blogging for dollars" has existed since before blogs. Before blogs it was; website + affiliate links + content about affiliate product = $$$.

    The affiliate link disclosure thing popped up here and there prior to Flogs, but it was always just talk, or something bloggers could do as a voluntary action.

    Rampant Rebill Floggers have brought so much unwanted and unneeded attention to this industry over the past 2 years with their douchery — attention that could have been avoided. They come in, rape and pillage, and move on. Or, rather, they come in, rape and pillage, screw it up for everyone else, spend all the money they have made, end forced back into "real jobs", as Ruck pointed out last week on the C.2M blog.

    I don't go to the Ad-Tech's, or Affiliate Summit's, because as a whole, I hate this industry. Save for a few, the people are two-faced. The same pussies the are b!tchin and moaning about John Chow over at Wicked Fire are doing the same thing he is, except they are doing it in a misleading and dishonest way.

    In closing, good luck to the FTC, you b!tches are gonna need it!

  6. @Ricky:

    Don't think I think it's okay to rip people off by being dishonest, it's not. It's one thing to do a review of a product and put an affiliate link in your content and it's completely another thing to build an entire flog that is an out and out lie.

    It used to be that affiliates who built sites strictly to just pitch products didn't make anything because you could see right through them, but then the floggers started building fake sites that looked legit, but were scams and hooked people for $89 a month for some garbage acai berry crap. And it wasn't until this happened that the FTC goons started looking at the industry as a whole so now everybody that blogs has to disclose.

    I built my blog on the fact that I am brutally honest about what I review, I stopped doing paid reviews long ago and when I recommend a product, 90% of the time it's because I have already used it. But here's where the rub comes in, I don't think it's any business of the FTC to tell me I have to disclose affiliate links. I have built my blog honestly and my readers know that, I don't need the storm troopers at the FTC stirring the pot.

    And I'll tell you what's vague: Does this apply to affiliates in general or just bloggers? Does the FTC even know what a blogger or a blog is? (most flogs aren't really blogs, ever tried to leave a comment on one?) Can we just disclose that we make money in a terms of service or do we have to disclose on every post. What if you endorse a product just because you like it and you're not an affiliate, but later receive a gift because you generated sales? Guys like Shoemoney and John Chow get tons of free crap just because they can write one post and change somebody's business. Is the FTC going to stop those kinds of gifts?

    In the years I've been on this planet, I've seen the government get completely out of hand and the more intrusive they get, the more oppressive they become and the more of our money they need.

    Any way you look at this news, it is just plain bad. Maybe the feds and our politicians should abide by the rules and regulations they create before they find ways to disrupt our lives all the more. But that's another discussion.

  7. @Affiliate Confessions

    I agree with your points. This is just another classic example of the government stepping in to "fix" everything, even though they are going to do the exact opposite. Everything the government tries to regulate sucks.

    Not to mention, if they start regulating this, it just gives them more leverage to regulate other things in the future. Regulation by regulation, the government will slowly and quietly suck the fun, and free market out of the internet as we know it.

  8. I just hope the lines are clear when they do decide to move forward with this. What defines disclosure? What defines a violation?

    I'm still trying to figure how this is different than a commercial on TV?


  9. This is very interesting news. It makes you wonder how the FTC will enforce this since bloggers do not have to report gifts received or earnings to the FTC.

  10. This is a very interesting development. It is definitely good for consumers, but it is a hassle for bloggers and other affiliate marketers. I just hope they don't do this retroactively and force bloggers to amend old blog posts.

  11. As part of its review of its advertising guidelines, the FTC is proposing that word-of-mouth marketers and bloggers, as well as people on social-media sites such as Facebook, be held liable for any false statements they make about a product they’re promoting, along with the product’s marketer. This could present a significant issue for marketers, including the likes of Microsoft, Ford, and Pepsi, who spend billions on word-of-mouth and social media. PQ Media projects that marketers will spend $3.7 billion on word-of-mouth marketing in 2011.

  12. Correction, FTC to 'try' to regulate blogging. Implementation, at least how they've laid it out, is easier said than done. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  13. I strongly agree with the part that wants to enforce integrity among marketers. But, does it affect affiliates outside the US?

  14. The biggest question for me is how will they effectively regulate this? Thousands of reviews and affiliate posts pops all over the internet at a shattering rate. the probability of them being able to enforce their rules are slim to none.

  15. About FTC i read 5 mint ago at shankarbakshi blog.. he write almsot the same like you

    thanks for sharing new information (because i dont have much knowledge about FTC)

  16. I don't see how in the world they can regulate this… who lives where? What country? How do you prove they received the product as a gift? I'm one of those bloggers that throws in a review here and there – most of them are from products I've purchased myself. I have received one or two things and mentioned it, "just because…" NOT b/c of fear of the government – just b/c I am honest with my readers. I think this is a waste of time and money.

  17. I personally don't like it when the feds step in and start regulating industries, businesses, people's entrepreneurial drives. I don't like it because to some extent it seems to me like there won't be no stopping to regulation. Today the regulate this, what will tomorrow bring?

    On the other hand, I understand the feds need for regulation. Of course they only want to protect the consumer from fake advertising and similar stuff. So rules are welcome in that sense. if only they didn't start multiplying them and changing the game every time they do, then all would be just fine.

    All in all, I believe these new guidelines are not as troublesome as most people think. So I'll come out in the open and tell my visitor's that I'll get paid when they buy using my links. no big deal. It's not like i was stealing from them. Just making a living.

  18. Yes, everyone is talking about this and I think we should wait for few weeks to get proper and perfect idea. As people will started to give their own suggestion even without reading it full.

  19. I look at this as a total positive, it's simply another step forward to clean up the internet. We can't knock them, going back few years there were way more rip off sites and con sites then what there is today. The internet will draw a lot more sustainable users with honest and trustworthy bloggers and affiliate marketers!

  20. For me, this is FTC's evil plan to end and destroy the career of affiliate marketing and bloggers. How unfair! Go to hell FTC! I will blame FTC and I will never forgive them, if they don't make my dream business to come true on affiliate marketing!

    This is what Satan sent to FTC to make their mind evil! Your decision is not God-given, and you're destroying everyone's lives here. If FTC is reading about this, you should come face-to-face with me and duel in a "Steel Cage" match which means if I win, they have to reset their rules again to the old one.

    Before you implement that rules FTC, you have to go through me!

  21. Why is it the government tries to control every part of our lives? And now blogging? you gotta be kidding me.

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