Ethics in Blogging… is it possible to regulate?
Ethics in blogging.. according to the FTC. Seems like the FTC is going to try and crack down on bloggers who do reviews in return for free products.. and don’t disclose that fact. Yes, this is old news (hey, gimme a break will ya?!) but it keeps cropping up so I thought I would post on the matter.
This came across my Google Reader RSS feed today (click the link to read the full article):
Bad news, freebie bloggers: The FTC is coming down on you like a tray of dishes — and not just on bloggers, but anyone who uses social media. If you receive money or something for free and you blog, tweet, write up a positive review on Amazon, or share something nice about it with your 4,987 closest Facebook friends, the FTC wants you to disclose that fact or face fines of up to $11,000.
What do I think about the matter?
Well, on the one hand I see it as a good thing for people to divulge whether or not they are getting compensation for their reviews – it can help filter out the wheat from the chaff; On the other hand, the FTC stepping into the blogging medium can have some scary conotations for the future of the Internet.. what is next? Personal websites getting over viewed by the Government? I am not much of a paranoia person, but at times lately I feel like digging out my [ Tinfoil Hat Of Paranoia +1 ] when it comes to the government and regulating ‘free’ speech on the net.
My personal ethics say that you absolutely should let your readers know if you receive compensation for your post, if you write nothing but glowing reviews for games/products and happen to receive compensation, then it might call to question your personal ethics – if, however, you are able to find the bad with the good after receiving a product/game then maybe your readers will take you more seriously and your reader base will increase accordingly.
Other bloggers have had some input on the matter as well, Tobold over at Tobolds MMORPG Blog had some insights into how he feels about the matter:
In my opinion, accepting a free review copy of a game is perfectly okay, as long as you disclose having received it in the review you write. Which is pretty much the content of the new FTC guidelines as well. In the specific case of video game review copies one added factor is timing: As far as I know (never got one up to now) review copies of games are sent our BEFORE the game is available in stores, so that the reviews appear simultaneously with the game release. A review copy isn’t a cash payment in return for writing a favorable review, but a means to enable the blogger to write that review without cost to himself, and in time.
As for me? Well, I write positive and negative posts about games now and then.. and I have never been compensated for any of them 😦 [come on folks.. send me a free frikkin game already :p]. If I ever do get some sort of compensation I will definitely let the world know though (mainly because it will be quite an achievment for me! hehe).
What do you all think?