I disagree with the FTCâ€™s idiotic new requirements that bloggers must now disclose payola or material exchanges of goods with marketers. I agree with and live by the principle of liberal disclosure on this blog and in my personal life, but I donâ€™t like government meddling in my speech.
Furthermore, these regulations fall apart in execution and manifest as a can of worms and contradiction. For example: Why is it that mainstream media journalists can accept payola or freebies and chose to not disclose, but I, as a blogger, canâ€™t? I occasionally experiment with advertising technology systems that place contextually relevant ads next to my posts. If I mention a camera and trigger a Canon ad which brings in some revenue, must I disclose that? Or is it not necessary to disclose that revenue from a Canon ad because, with advertising revenue, this blog officially becomes professional? What about legacy, mainstream sites that have morphed into blogs? Indeed, most news sites now look more like blogs with all the same commenting and interactive functionality.
Regardless, as noted above, I try to live by the principle of liberal disclosure when material relationships or exchanges may bias my views, or appear as such. I say â€œtryâ€ because as a human, Iâ€™m imperfect and disclosure is a subjective behavior. The Globe And Mailâ€™s Simon Houpt interviewed me on this subject the other day, in reference to my participation in the Sony Digidads project:
â€œDisclosure is good,â€ noted Max Kalehoff, one of the Digidads participants and an executive at a New York search engine software firm who says he has never taken any money to blog about a subject, and would not do so because it could harm readersâ€™ perception of his integrity. â€œI have to live with that digital bread crumb for the rest of my life.â€ He added, â€œI would look much more to my reputation and the court of public opinion as an enforcer rather than government.â€
For all readers of this blog: First, thank you for your kind attention. Second, the FTC rules are kind of a joke. Third, my promise to you and myself is that I will always strive to be transparent and authentic. Fourth, I canâ€™t be bought.
(Photo credit: MarkHaertl)