Blogactiv Director

The world of internet marketing has been changing – again – over the last few weeks. New rules in the US will begin to have an impact on the way that products and services are described online.

I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to be one, so this is not legal advice. Instead, I am listing below a number of links that provide more information so that individual bloggers can make up their own minds as to what – if anything – they ought to do.

The FTC Rules

BBC Reporting

John Reese’s thoughts on what this means for internet marketers.

This is a subject that has been raised on this platform recently by Mathew here. How it will impact the political world, I do not pretend to know.

Some of the Blogactiv bloggers are very clearly in one ‘camp’ or another. Others are organisations, so we can presume that they are paid to post by the group / NGO / think tank.

But what about individuals?

I can think of one recent post that was very complimentary about an organisation that most of us would totally disagree with. The individual in question had recently flown across the world to meet with them. Who paid for the flights, hotels and food? I honestly don’t know, and do not plan to ask, but it could easily be an influencing factor in this persons – or any persons – opinions.

What about other organisations? I can also think of an organisation that is ‘supporting’ blogging efforts to raise awareness of it’s issues. As yet, their ‘support’ isn’t public. Should it be? I think we can all probably agree that it should be, but blogging is a new thing to this particular organisation and they haven’t yet thought throught their policies.

Will there be a time when such interests need to be divulged? Clearly, there is no selling of ‘products’ on this platform, but is that much different to selling ideologies or political positions? This isn’t an easy subject to broach in politics without the potential for constraining freedom of speech, but it may become a hot topic in the EU blogosphere soon enough.

The world of blogging is becoming much more complex…

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Comments

  1. Thanks for bringing this up – I’d planned a followup post linking to the FTC rules, so you’ve saved me the trouble.

    In the EU sphere, many people are naturally suspicious. Any organisation operating in such a climate, as anyhalf-decent social media-aware communications person will tell you, needs clear guidelines for all staff on what is acceptable and what is not. It only takes one mistake.

    Transparency is no longer an option. It’s the environment, whether you like it or not. So what is acceptable = honesty, integrity and authenticity.

    For some in Brussels, this is going to be a difficult lesson to learn.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. I recall reading in one of Don Tapscott’s books about the Net Generation that modern (read under the age of 30) web users expect honesty from an organisation online.

    Honesty, integrity and authenticity are essentially the minimum barriers for entry into the Web 2.0 world. Lets face it, there are very few other barriers to entry into this world, which I think it is why these three are so important. It is what separates those voices that can be listened to and will gather a sustainable audience from the other 97%+ that fail to generate an audience.

    On the few occassions when my opinions are sought on such topics, this is how I try and answer the question, “What do we need to do?”

  3. If honesty, integrity, and authenticity are the new axioms of the online world, then certainly we should hold ourselves to the same high standard as the ones who are causing all this fright.

    “It only takes one mistake” is probably an over-statement since every one of us who can think of an organization who refuses to disclose its sponsorship seems also to be in a position where it would be imprudent to divulge this sort of information. And how to do so without exposing yourself to the vagaries of a very small job market or allegations of libel? You see it, you don’t like it, and you have no idea what to do about it. Here, crotchety and humbled, we complain amongst ourselves and hope only that somebody else might clean up this mess.

    Will it be the bloggers who are benefitting from these schemes?
    The institutions who support them?
    The press agencies who teeter with complicity and totter on responsibility?

    You are the enraged blogging community!
    Get enraged already!

  4. If an organisation refuses to disclose its sponsorship because it would be imprudent, then they’ll discover how even less prudent it is to hide it.

    Particularly in EU discussions, when distrust is already rife.

    Perhaps “it only takes one mistake” is a bit alarmist, but reputations are incredibly easy to earn, and incredibly difficult to change.

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