FTC regulations on blogger payola and freebies went into effect today, and bloggers have gotten busy disclosing their "material connections" to the people and companies they write about. Most of what's been disclosed is small-time, slapdash or downright stress inducing.
We have to admit the wave of disclosures hasn't been as massive as we anticipated yesterday, particularly if you exclude sarcastic disclosures like this marketing blog's list of all the free samples, zombie newspaper subscriptions and government handouts it received over the years.
It looks like some blogs got their disclosures out of the way earlier in the year, when the FTC rules first made news; the others, we presume, either aren't aware of the regulations or believe the federal government will be no more diligent regulating bloggers than it was regulating financial institutions. A reasonable bet.
The blogs that did disclose their freebies tended to lack the sort of deals — Sony, SeaWorld, etc. — professional fameballer Julia Allison laid on the line yesterday. Which is, frankly, a good thing; hopefully the blogosphere will remain this under-sold-out for years to come. Click the pictures below for some examples:
Music blog Guilt Free Pleasures: After its mom, "who reads Gawker religiously" according to an email it sent us, saw our post yesterday and pestered it, Guilt Free Pleasures disclosed that it got "most if not all" of its music for free from record labels and publicists and that it takes free concert tickets. But "our opinions have not been swayed by the fact that we are receiving this music for free." Oh whatever; we know you're planning to build a gilded mansion with those spare craptastic CDs, GFP. (Also, call your mother, already.)
High-profile Valley blogger and former PR executive Louis Gray: Reminded readers he is now a consultant for Paladin Advisors Group, with clients like ReadBurner, SocialToo and BuzzGain, as disclosed in previous posts. Gray then noted that there is no easy way to attach disclosures to "likes" on blog systems and social networks, or shares on Google Reader. Thanks for giving us something fresh and unexpected to worry about. Thanks a lot.
Christine Koh of mommy blog Boston Mamas: Wrote about that the practices of some fellow mommy bloggers "depressed" her; reiterated her longtime commitment "to transparency and 100% advertorial-free editorial — but said she wouldn't be disclosing her material ties on a per-post basis as the FTC recommends because "I operate Boston Mamas more like a magazine" and have a clearly detailed editorial code.
The disclosure, buried on the "Contacts" page, foreswears advertorial but says Koh accepts free review units, "junkets" and "swag," including gift cards, which she insists do not influence her coverage. So theoretically she could accept a free trip to Monaco, a trillion dollar gift card and a necklace of opulent jewels to review, all from the same vendor, and then never disclose this fact to her readers in the post. In fact, that very scenario occurs weekly for Koh, probably.
NonSociety blogger Jordan Reid: Like her corporate overlord/protocelebrity mentor Julia Allison, Reid wants to stay out of trouble with the FTC. So she promised to let readers know when her parents buy her an awesome dinner at a four-star restaurant; promised to not completely fabricate posts; and to overshare absolutely "everything" that happens to her with "total and complete transparency." None of that really has anything to do with the FTC regulations, Jordan, but it's, uh, good to know, and we're sure your boss over there is proud.