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FTC States Bloggers Must Disclose Paid Reviews 310

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the competition-for-best-review-reward-begins-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that in the first revision of how endorsements and testimonials work since 1980, bloggers will now be required by the FTC to clearly disclose freebies or payments they received for product reviews. "the commission stopped short Monday of specifying how bloggers must disclose any conflicts of interest. The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. Penalties include up to $11,000 in fines per violation. The rules take effect Dec. 1."
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FTC States Bloggers Must Disclose Paid Reviews

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  • Astroturfing. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:23PM (#29645725)
    Maybe the astroturfing garbage will finally stop... or at least be more obvious.
    • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moogsynth (1264404) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:33PM (#29645941)

      Maybe the astroturfing garbage will finally stop... or at least be more obvious.

      That's pretty naive. Of course it will continue. Although it will be obvious to you or me, it will still be somewhat deceptive. They'll probably try and portray the freebies themselves as positive endorsements for Company X. "Luckily for me they even included a stylish bag to carry it around in! These will be sold separately and I must say they look super stylish!!!!1"

      • US only (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:11PM (#29646573) Journal
        The FTC rules only apply to people in the US. Once again this is an example of how one country's laws are meaningless on the Internet. They will simply pay non-Americans to astroturf. You cannot tell whether someone is typing with an American accent on the net - although cultural references can sometimes give it away.
        • Re:US only (Score:5, Funny)

          by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:24PM (#29646777) Homepage Journal

          although cultural references can sometimes give it away.

          What makes you say that, eh?

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          although cultural references can sometimes give it away.

          Yada, yada, yada, I have no idea what you are talking about. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go welcome our astroturfing overlords.

        • by Hojima (1228978)

          although cultural references can sometimes give it away.

          copy + paste = gone

        • Re:US only (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pete6677 (681676) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:49PM (#29647143)

          Companies won't even have to move their astroturfing overseas. They'll just have to redefine compensation and promotions.

          It's much like what political lobbyists do to get around laws against bribery: call it something else. It's no longer a paid review; it's promotional consideration, a free sample, whatever the law did not yet address. The law will not get rid of paid reviews anymore than campaign finance reform got rid of influence peddling.

    • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:50PM (#29646229)

      Nothing good will come of this except more $$$ for more government positions or contractors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You should always assume everything you read is biased. If it wasn't biased why would you read it anyways? The best you can do is hope to find someone with your similar biases and even then you still have to make your own decision.

      • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcmonkey (96054) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:17PM (#29646675) Homepage

        Why would you hope for someone with similar biases?

        For something like game reviews, yes, if the reviewer and I have liked the same games in the past then I have a better shot at liking the new game that just got the good review.

        However for political and social commentary, what do I get from reading a web log written from the point of view of my own biases? Someone to tell me what I already believe so I can respond with how insightful the poster is?

        If I read a web log written from a different perspective, I might actually learn something (I know--scary thought).

        At least then when I walk away with my same old biases, they've been positively reenforced by standing up to counterargument rather than coming out of the echo chamber of people who all agree.

        • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:23PM (#29646763)

          Good point, I was thinking about reviews, but ended up writing about everything. My point is that full disclosure is generally a worthless charade. Even though this [zerohedge.com] is specifically about investments it's the best explanation of the sham of full disclosure I've seen.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by falconwolf (725481)

            Good point, I was thinking about reviews, but ended up writing about everything. My point is that full disclosure is generally a worthless charade. Even though this [zerohedge.com] is specifically about investments it's the best explanation of the sham of full disclosure I've seen.

            Thanks for the link. I think what concerns some people though, right up the investment alley, is what I heard a board member maybe the CEO of Whole Foods did some tyme ago. If I recall right Whole Foods was in talks to buy a competitor, and thi

        • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Shakrai (717556) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:34PM (#29646945) Journal

          However for political and social commentary, what do I get from reading a web log written from the point of view of my own biases? Someone to tell me what I already believe so I can respond with how insightful the poster is?

          Unfortunately that seems to be the state of the majority of our political discourse. People fill up on web logs that cater to their own biases (Dailykos, Redstate) or watch "news" networks (MSNBC, Fox) that do the same. Why expose yourself to competing points of view when you can join an echo chamber and shout down anyone who dares to disagree with the group think?

        • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kannibal_klown (531544) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:49PM (#29647147)

          Personally for reviews I like to find the ones reporting problems or other low-scoring responses.

          Great, 80% of the owners on the forum LOVE this car and think it's god's gift. Good for you.

          I want to read from that other 20% where people are talking about rattling, quirks, and bad experiences.

          Those 80% are usually from Joe Sixpack applauding the number of cup holders and the glovebox, or couldn't tell a quality DLP tv from a 10-year-old analog projector TV.

          I like to get some of the good reviews too, and sometimes a bad review is just the writer's bias showing, but I find it informative.

        • Biases (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Blink Tag (944716)

          However for political and social commentary, what do I get from reading a web log written from the point of view of my own biases? Someone to tell me what I already believe so I can respond with how insightful the poster is?

          What do you get? You get to be like the vast majority of people. We (often unconsciously) seek out those that are similar to us as a way of validating ourselves. If others are like us, we must be pretty good people. If (smart|rich|famous|powerful) people think the same way we do, we must then be more valuable. Feeding our self-image leads to some pretty potent biases.

          And while you certainly deserve kudos for seeking out those with conflicting opinions in order to challenge your world views, it is still high

          • Re:Biases (Score:4, Interesting)

            by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000@@@yahoo...com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:29PM (#29650387)

            And while you certainly deserve kudos for seeking out those with conflicting opinions in order to challenge your world views, it is still highly likely you're seeking out those like you. (You're on Slashdot, for goodness sakes.) Most of your friends are likely of similar age, marital status, education, and ethnicity. They have similar interests to you.

            Similar interests yes, but not similar beliefs. For instance a number of people on slashdot, including myself, support free markets whereas others prefer socialism. Some support proprietary software, some FOSS, and some like me like or use what works.

            Falcon

    • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:5, Informative)

      by sampas (256178) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:52PM (#29646259)
      The new FTC rules aren't exclusive to bloggers. They cover celebrities, too. You can read the proposed rule changes on the FTC's site here: http://www2.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm [ftc.gov] and in detail here: http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf [ftc.gov] . Saying "results not typical" won't make it legal any more. Also, ads will need to disclose sponsored "independent research," e.g. "we paid this doctor $10k to help us sell this garbage." Finally, maybe Slashdot stories could include links to the primary source?
      • Saying "results not typical" won't make it legal any more.

        Good, every time I see one of those ads for an online computer diagnostic service (name withheld) which claims that it can "immediately diagnose any hidden problems" I always get the urge to create a hidden problem, prove that they can't "immediately" diagnose it, and then sue them for misleading advertising. That little disclaimer is the only thing that stops me.

        Also, procrastination and not wanting to actually do that stops me too, it just annoys me to see those commercials because I know that they're ju

      • by nametaken (610866)

        PLEASE let this be the end of those goddamn Extenze commercials.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          No, it just means they'll have to put it on the bottom of the screen for 2.5 seconds in type so small you can't read it.
    • How in the heck do they propose to enforce this? most bloggers are anonymous. Many don't live in the US. Even Cringely doesn't use his real name. And then there is the sheer number. Moreover an underhanded company could easily soak up a few 11K fines (unlikely they would have to pay many).

      • Bloggers could soak up multiple 11k hits? Uhhh I was under the perception that blaggers made no money but occasionally whore themselves out for free shit.
    • Re:Astroturfing. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrjohnson (538567) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:55PM (#29646307) Homepage
      Not in time to prevent the massive astroturfing campaign for Windows 7, however...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

      "Maybe the astroturfing garbage will finally stop... or at least be more obvious."

      I want to see how that works out on slashdot. It should be amusing.

      Anonymous Coward posts:

      Linux sucks, only gays want it, only idiots and democrats use it. Apple is for elitest homos and republicans. Unix only works for fossilized fags who dream in binary. MS rocks, Gates is God, and Ballmer is the messiah.

      Disclaimer: AC is paid $25 per thousand words by Microsoft corporation to bash Linux and Apple while praising MS.

  • Get paid... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Protonk (599901) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:23PM (#29645741) Homepage
    So we'll be seeing fewer reviews on slashdot, then?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) *

      I do a lot of book reviews, I don't see that slowing down. I can't imagine anyone thinks book reviewers buy all those books, especially the ones they review before the book is publicly available. I also never imagined that movie reviewers paid to see the films they review, even though they didn't say it explicitly. Adding in some boilerplate about being given a ticket of the film or a review copy of the book isn't a big deal, so I don't care, but I don't think it is really necessary.

      What else get

      • I'm willing to provide a review of the Tesla Roadster for a copy.. ;)

      • I can't imagine anyone thinks book reviewers buy all those books, especially the ones they review before the book is publicly available.

        We just assumed you were pirating them.

      • I don't see this solving any problems at all.

        I do a lot of book reviews, I don't see that slowing down. I can't imagine anyone thinks book reviewers buy all those books, especially the ones they review before the book is publicly available. I also never imagined that movie reviewers paid to see the films they review, even though they didn't say it explicitly. Adding in some boilerplate about being given a ticket of the film or a review copy of the book isn't a big deal, so I don't care, but I don't think it is really necessary.

        Anybody who reviews anything professionally - whether it is for a magazine or newspaper or website or blog or whatever - isn't paying for the stuff they're reviewing.

        If it's something that isn't publicly available yet, there'll typically be some mention that AcmeCorp was nice enough to send over a demo model... If it's something that is currently available to the public there may not be a mention of where they got their review copy from, but I don't think anybod

  • US only (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Monoman (8745) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:25PM (#29645781) Homepage

    What about bloggers that are not U.S. citizens?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:26PM (#29645787)

    Stop calling it lobbying and call it by its real name: bribery. Will the politicians be fined to death in slices of $11K?

    • by AndGodSed (968378)

      How is this about politics? I thought this was about bloggers and reviewers of products? Or do politicions and their parties also get in on that act?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by doom (14564)

        How is this about politics? I thought this was about bloggers and reviewers of products? Or do politicions and their parties also get in on that act?

        It probably isn't about politics at present, but it probably should be. This grand dream of citizens collaborating to share information is going to run up against a wall of paid subversion one of these days, if it hasn't already. Requiring that people disclose who's paying them would be an obvious first step.

        But then, we also need a change in the design o

        • by brian0918 (638904)
          Ahh yes, because Goebbels and Hitler would have been so powerful if they didn't have the voluntary backing of their countrymen to enforce their will. What you're advocating is the destruction of freedom of speech, the destruction of the internet.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:31PM (#29645889)
    Penalties include up to $11,000 in fines per violation. Note to self: require a payment of at least $12,000 to endorse a product in my blog.
  • And the politicians? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neuroticwhine (1024687) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:32PM (#29645911)
    I may be incorrect on this, but do american politicians need to do the same, i don't believe they do (when considering modern lobbying)?

    It's a funny country when the random blogger on the interwebs is held to a higher standard than those that govern.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org] (it looks like ethic reform bills have been repeatedly struck down... surprise on that on eh?)
    • Legalized Bribes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dotren (1449427)

      IMO, lobbying just needs to be completely gotten rid of as it has become simply a means to legally bribe publicly elected officials into corporate agendas into law.

      Same for campaign donations.. every attempt, that I've seen, to put restrictions on either of these practices has been quickly circumvented.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      A lot of information about politician's donors has to be disclosed. That's how sites like www.opensecrets.org are able to function.

      There was a bit of a flap during the 2008 presidential race because a higher percentage (somewhere around 25-30%) of Barack Obama's donors than normal were below the $200 limit where the donation had to be reported in detail. But in general, the data is out there.

      Although I've always liked the proposal to have politicians dress in outfits similar to NASCAR drivers with their var

  • What's a blogger? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:34PM (#29645951)

    So what exactly constitutes a "blogger", or a "paid review"? If I post a twitter update, is that a "blog"? What about a note on facebook, is that a blog? What if I don't call it a blog, but call it a public diary instead?

    • Someone who posts stuff online.
      Receiving anything for free.
      It is a micro-blog.
      Yes.
      It's still a blog.

    • Re:What's a blogger? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bazzargh (39195) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:56PM (#29646329)

      The actual FTC guidelines [ftc.gov] (Section V) don't use the word 'blog' in the guideline itself. Instead, they talk about 'endorsements' and define them like this:

      (b) For purposes of this part, an endorsement means any advertising message (including
      verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other
      identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that
      consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party
      other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to
      those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience
      the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or
      institution.

      They give a bunch of specific examples (which do mention blogs), including one of astroturfing which implies this applies to appstore, amazon reviews (which would be nice). It does seem as if they mean things like twitter should be covered. There's also a bunch of circumstances they describe where you don't have to mention your affiliation, eg if you're a sports star with a clothing contract and always wear that brand off the field as well as on, or if you appear in a clearly-labelled advertisment giving a testimonial and are only paid for the ad - its a different if you have a financial interest in the product.

      • That definition states you can be fined based on other people's perception of your content. Your intent is irrelevant. What a stupid law...

    • by jhfry (829244)

      Lets take the form out of the equation. If you are paid to promote an item, then you must let the audience know that your promotion was paid.

      Essentially, any time your "opinion" was influenced by money, then you must disclose it. I think this should be true in all forms of communication. If I write a book bashing the president and was paid by the GOP to write it (not the same as royalties), then I need to disclose this or risk being penalized.

      I would not be against a blanket disclosure, so long as its pr

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bonch (38532)

      Don't worry. I'm sure the government will be really specific with their definition so that they can't just apply it to anything. I'm sure this won't get abused in any way. I'm sure this isn't just the first step in increasing government regulation of the internet. I'm sure there's absolutely no reason to complain that the freedoms of the internet, good and bad, are going away in favor of increased government control.

  • Can of worms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashkitty (21637) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:34PM (#29645959) Homepage
    What's considered a blog? Is a twitter message included? What about facebook status updates? Affiliate links? It seems that almost every message that mentions a product on sites that make money will now have to include a disclaimer.
    • by Sandbags (964742)

      It's pretty opbvious in the text, which actually does not define "blog" or "blogger." in ANY form of print or media, on your web site or someone elses, if you have received freebies or payent of any kind (money , services, discounts, etc), you are now required to state so if you are making an endoresement of that product.

      unfortunately, "how" to state so is not defined, so it;s still possible to put in your post "see site for more info." and then there make the disclaimer. It could also be in a sig line, o

    • by bit01 (644603)

      What's considered a blog? Is a twitter message included? What about facebook status updates? Affiliate links?

      All of them [slashdot.org].

      This is great news. It makes quite clear that all forms of endorsement where somebody pretends to be a third party for financial gain are out.

      Won't stop all of it of course, particularly internationally, but at least now astroturfers in the US are on notice that their "harmless" activities are going to cost them. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

      ---

      Anonymous company communic

  • just wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:43PM (#29646099)

    if they ever catch this 'Anonymous Coward' guy, they will throw the book at him.

  • This is Crazy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by colganc (581174) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:43PM (#29646101)
    I can't believe they're doing this. I don't care if a review is paid or not. If I can't think analytically or critical about a review(er) then I deserve what I get. How does the process even work. Can I go around submitting tons of accusations to an FTC site about any random blog? How are they defining a blog or blogger? How does a blogger defend themselves from accusations? On a separate issue, this is really terrible reporting. There is almost no information.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      That's not the point... It's NOT about reviewers. It;s about all the paid trolls kiving items 5 star reviews because they were paid to, so other people thing its a good product and buy it.

      Blog and Blogger do not require a definition. Simply, ANY statement of endorsement in print, media, or on the web, where ANY form of payment, discount, freebie, etc was given, with or without a request for a favorablke posting, requires disclosure.

      Also, since the penalty is not necessarily on the blogger, but on the com

      • by professorguy (1108737) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:46PM (#29647097)

        ANY statement of endorsement in print, media, or on the web, where ANY form of payment, discount, freebie, etc was given, with or without a request for a favorablke posting, requires disclosure

        My wife's gardening website includes a link to her friend's wedding bouquet service with language indicating my wife's endorsement.

        While she was not paid for that link, they have known each other for 50 years. So many, many free gifts have been exchanged in that time. Even money has probably changed hands between them at some time during their association.

        Is a disclaimer required on her site? Because if so, then this is a win for the mega corporations. If I can't recommend my friend's service, then only massive corporations will get any advertising at all.

        • by Sandbags (964742)

          The law doesn't say you can';t reccomend it, you just need to disclose the association.

          Place the link in a section on the site noting that the other site is beinbg "advertised" here. If the link is in a descriptive part of the site, inline with other text, then place an notation, and at the bottom of the page, in clear language, indicate that the link is not included as a personal reccomnedation, but as an advertisement for services. That's it...

          This would only apply if those gifts were from one business

    • by Tanktalus (794810)

      There is a world of difference between "I like this product, and think everyone should have one" and "I like this product, and think everyone should have one. PS: they gave me a free one so I could review it. Oh, and 5 big ones in cold, hard cash, too."

      It's important information when deciding credibility of the reviewer. And that means it's important to critically think about what the reviewer is saying.

    • by nametaken (610866)

      Don't panic. Read the text of the FTC guidelines, most of your questions are answered there.

    • How are they defining a blog or blogger?

      They aren't, they're defining "endorser". The medium doesn't matter. You can read the text here:

      http://www2.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm [ftc.gov]

  • I didn't think the FCC had much authority over the internet. It's not like its radio waves here. The FCC can't regulate mail or bulletin boards. What statute gives them authority to do this?

    • From the Federal Communications Commission's "About Us" [fcc.gov] page:

      "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fierythrasher (777913)
      Um, it's FTC not FCC...big difference.
    • by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:54PM (#29646281)

      This isn't about the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). It's about the Federal Trade Commission--the FTC.

      A blogger is one thing and an advertiser is another. Getting paid in exchange for publishing advertising copy is definitely something that is (and should be regulated).

    • Look at the summary again - FTC

      • by Tanktalus (794810)

        While you're correct that it's the FTC, you do have to remember that this is slashdot, and the summary and the story it (usually) links to may not be related.

    • by blcamp (211756)

      > I didn't think the FCC had much authority over the internet. It's not like its radio waves here. The FCC can't regulate mail or bulletin boards. What statute gives them authority to do this?

      If the FCC was able to make such a case of oversight, they gave that up last week when it was announced that the ICANN/US Dept. Of Commerce agreement was coming to an end.

      IANAL, but even a layman can see that there's so many legal holes in the FCC's assertion, it's practically a black hole.

  • by EXTomar (78739) on Monday October 05, 2009 @12:53PM (#29646275)

    Doing this brings blogs into alignment with a lot of media paid advertising. No one should worry (or be elated) about the end of these things because even with the "This program is a paid advertisement of XYZ Co..." there are just as many infomercials floating around than there always was.

    Advertising isn't necessarily wrong (not necessarily right either but that is another thread). It is when advertising presents itself as something other than advertising that is a problem.

    • by Sandbags (964742)

      Or when companies are being PAID to have a small army of people download apps from the app store tand then give them glowing 5 star reviews to pro up their ratings, (or to give 1 star reviews to competitor's apps!) making honest people think a bad app is really good, and devaluing the entire rating system.

  • by WCMI92 (592436)

    So many blogs and websites are nothing but shills for publishers and vendors and don't disclose it. This should stop unethical companies like Sony sending out their paid astroturfers and viral marketers without it being disclosed.

    I also wonder how sites like MMORPG will survive when they have to disclose payments from publishers (like SOE) along with fluff pieces and "interviews" about them.

    • You're So Funny (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ratboy666 (104074)

      Let's cut to the net net (Just reading Raymond Chens blog, and I decided to get with the Microsoft speak). I am not in the US. I do not post in the US. My English is excellent, and I am able to either compose my own "reviews", or would be willing to simply post your reviews.

      My rates are reasonable, and I am willing to work under aliases.

      Contact me via email for your astroturfing and viral marketing needs. Payment accepted in US Currency, Euros, Canadian Currency, or (if I can actually be convinced that the

  • by mounthood (993037) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:03PM (#29646443)

    The FTC is wrong to suggest that a "product review" is some easy to identify thing. If I write that I love the Slap-Chop am I reviewing it? When does it change from opinion to review? Will a lawyer need to review everything before it's posted, or should we trust that government won't try to misuse this?

    Writing on the web covers *all* modes, from babel to academic works. Regulating it as commercial is just wrong.

    • If Slap-Chop Manufacturing And Brain Surgeries Inc. gives you stuff in exchange for your endorsement of Slap-Chop, then you're affected. If they don't, you are not. Does it get any simpler than that?

      • by mounthood (993037)

        If Slap-Chop Manufacturing And Brain Surgeries Inc. gives you stuff in exchange for your endorsement of Slap-Chop, then you're affected. If they don't, you are not. Does it get any simpler than that?

        So if the Slap-Chop competitors give me stuff, I'm in the clear? Got it. Or do you want to refine your rules? (and should I have my Lawyer present?)

    • If I write that I love the Slap-Chop am I reviewing it? When does it change from opinion to review?

      If the guys who make the Slap-Chop gave you money for the review, or you work for them, etc... then it's a conflict of interest and you have to say so. If you actually ARE Joe Random Blogger, then it doesn't apply to you.

      The whole point is to keep scumbags in the former group from pretending to be in the latter.

    • The FTC is wrong to suggest that a "product review" is some easy to identify thing.

      The FTC isn't talking about "product reviews", it's talking about "endorsements".

      If I write that I love the Slap-Chop am I reviewing it?

      No, but you're endorsing it. If you represent yourself as an unaffiliated third party but were actually paid to say that you love it then you need to state that. This isn't difficult to figure out.

  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:13PM (#29646603) Homepage

    I worked as a videogame reviewer for a number of years and the amount of bought and paid for "reviews" in that game is just silly. I once panned MGS3 (for being all hype and cutscene and little substance) and got a nasty letter from them stating they would not continue to reimburse me or advertise for our site... we were a totally independent site and took no money or ads in the first place.

  • What about the shills in the media? What about whole companies, think tanks, consultancies whose sole purpose is get paid to talk highly about those who paid them money? You think Gartner would survive without the constantly milking Microsoft to produce dubious "Total Cost of Ownership" and such rot? What about the politicians who blatantly act on the interest of their campaign donors while piously touting the insane, ridiculous, irrelevant nonsense sanctimoniously?

    I really want the conflicts of interes

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      If you read the actual guidelines (posted in an earlier comment [slashdot.org]) you'd see that the disclosure rules apply to everyone else too. Gartner can milk Microsoft all they want, they just have to be clear that whatever they did was bought and paid for by Microsoft. David Pogue can continue to love everything Apple does so long as he's clear on his other non-reviewer monetary interests.

  • The insidious problem is not straightforward payment for sham reviews. It is analogous to the old-fashioned phenomena of magazines about cars or local magazines with restaurant reviews. Their source of income is advertising from automobile manufacturers and local restaurants. They may not be accepting payment in return for favorable notices, but their coverage happens to be favorable. The publishers know that if it ceases to be favorable, their revenue dries up. If a publication contains advertising, we kno

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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