With the rising popularity of blogging, and its ascent to a position of influence and power, it was only a matter of time before the government and regulation entered into the equation. Last weekâs NYT Sunday Magazine took a look at the F.T.C. and their new role as chief watchdog of the common manâs online rant. Since the F.T.C. revised its rules regarding endorsements and testimonials to include bloggers, there has been a predictable outcry from the blogosphere as to its fairness and impact on freedom of speech. The new requirement for disclosure is at the center of the debate.
This begs the question, is this regulation and need for disclosure such a bad thing? Case in point is a subset of online scribes called Mommy Bloggers, which often focus their electronic quills to offer advice and opinions on decisions that impact consumer buying habits. If that same blogger doing the review is receiving monetary or material compensation from the company producing the product they are reviewing, then donât their readers have a fair expectation to know about it? This shouldnât limit the financial upside to responsible bloggers, as some have complained. The bloggers can review as they reviewed before, just with a new caveat in the form of some fine print. This keeps everyone honest and allows the reader to take certain reviews with a grain of salt. Furthermore, it encourages the open sharing of information and enhanced transparency that is at the very heart of the blogging movement.
The blog is now out of its infancy and entering a new phase of maturation in both its development and place in the overall media equation. With this new found weight and authority also comes serious responsibility. If the blog wants to be taken seriously as an adult, itâs time to start acting like one. Disclosure isnât something to shy away from, it should be embraced.