There goes my summer vacation! The Federal Trade Commission has announced plans to issue guidelines and monitor blogs for accepting undisclosed payments or gifts in exchange for favorable coverage:
Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all.
The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
This would be the first time the FTC involves itself in regulating bloggers. Depending on the broadness/vagueness of these guidelines, this could affect even less serious common practices such as linking to an online retailer and collecting commissions for any sales from it. Generally speaking, I think metal blogs aren’t the ones drawing attention here – our favorite bands are too careful with their money to engage in this kind of tomfoolery (but if I find out they do, and just never bribed me, I’m gonna be pissed…).