Monday, October 5, 2009

FTC Passes Regulations That Require Bloggers to Disclose Paid Reviews

Tags: astroturfing, ftc

The FTC has just revised some guidelines regarding endorsements that will directly affect bloggers that participate in paid reviews. Basically, the FTC has put in place some fines for bloggers that don't clearly disclose payments (or free products) they get from companies they review products for.

I, personally, welcome the new guidelines. While I don't have anything against those that do paid reviews, I do think the process should be as transparent as possible. You may be able to post a fair review of a product you've been paid to review, but your audience should be aware of any potential conflicts of interest.

With that said, many people have already begun pointing out some potential problems with the enforceability of the new rules. So far, it looks like bloggers are the only groups singled out, which would leave loopholes for countless other Web-related mediums. What about paid Twitter Tweets, Amazon reviews, or Facebook messages? I'd like to think they would all be covered by the FTC's new guidelines, but nobody seems to know right now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Astroturfing - Legal But Incredibly Immoral

Tags: astroturfing

It's tough finding an audience for a new product or service on the internet - especially with the sheer amount of noise found on the Web these days. For some, the daunting task of launching something new online means hiring a PR firm to handle the marketing side of things. While most PR firms are ethical in their practices, some have taken the "easy route" when it comes to online marketing. One of the shadier tactics that's starting to rear its ugly head more and more is something called astroturfing.

Astroturfing is basically the process of getting some people together to advocate whatever you are pushing (such as a product, a message, or a candidate for office). While the concept is not new and has been used before the internet came along, the simple fact is that creating fake reviews, testimonials, and word of mouth online is cheaper and easier than it has ever been before. Take for example Reverb Communications, a company that appears to be heavily into the astroturfing game.
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