Book Bloggers and the FTC

I don’t consider myself to be a libertarian or anything, but I have to admit, I bristle at the talk of government regulation of book bloggers.

Seems the US Federal Trade Commission is passing expanded “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book bloggers, they say, must include a line of disclosure so that their visitors know the blogger is being “compensated” for his reviews, “compensation” referring to the review copy of the book. 😯

Never mind that print media members have been receiving free books for years and years and years without any such disclaimer and will not now be required to include such a disclaimer (see Edward Champion’s article summary of an interview with FTC’s Richard Cleland). Seems the FTC views newspapers and magazines as fair and balanced but individuals as evil and corrupt. 🙄

As such, the FTC apparently believes poor, helpless consumers are being buffaloed by us greedy, lying bloggers who say we like a book when really we don’t, thus bilking book buyers out of … what? The responsibility to think for themselves? To think about the reviews they read? To compare and contrast one blogger with another and bloggers with print reviewers?

What mystifies me is that the FTC thinks blog visitors are too stupid to tell which bloggers are writing endorsements instead of reviews. Or that once burned they might continue to visit an endorsement blog and get burned again, and again, and again.

Above all this silliness is the FTC admission that they can’t in any way visit all the blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (yes, this also applies to social networking sites). Of course these guidelines also have no power whatever over bloggers located outside the US. So what do they accomplish?

And another question for those in the US. How is it that an agency we did not vote into office can pass new laws like this, for certainly, if they can fine bloggers up to $11,000 they are passing a law. Well, not “passing” a law. That’s what Congress does. I guess in this case it’s “declaring” a law.

Then my other question: Why is the government seemingly so concerned about due diligence when it comes to protecting consumers from bloggers but couldn’t manage to look into banks and savings and loan companies to keep them from mismanaging millions of dollars?

Makes me wonder about motives and priorities and such, ya know? 😕

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