Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Press: CBC "Paid to Blog" segment regarding FTC blogger disclosure rules

The New Year is kicking off with a bang. Bootup Labs moved into our new offices on Sunday (Cambie at Hastings, the Flack Block - come visit!) On Monday morning Danny was in the Financial Post (actually, @trevoro from @layerboom has much longer quotes on page 2). Then on Tuesday (technically yesterday as I'm posting this), I got a call from @lalondetcbc and ended up with a short CBC TV segment talking about whether bloggers should be legally required to disclose payments and other bonuses they receive. I was "opposite" Rebecca / Miss 604. That is, it was supposed to be opposing view points. CBC Video is not embeddable so all I could do was give you this crappy screenshot Rebecca is an excellent blogger. She is a professional blogger (i.e. makes her living from her blogging activities). It's great that she's decided to use to indicate her disclosures: it shows the kind of honesty and transparency that makes her a great blogger. Do we need a law for it? Well, the FTC in the US thinks it does, but the guidelines seem over broad - a $5 discount at a restaurant and a positive review could net you an $11K fine? Of course, they say it will be on a case by case basis. Hmmm ... a law that is hard to enforce and is applied inconsistently? Sounds like trouble to me! I like John Chow's disclosure policy -- everything he posts he's making money from. This is a pure case of media literacy - people need to learn about the sources they are consuming and make their own decisions. Of course, journalists aren't covered under these laws at all. Why not? Good question, and quotes like this one in a Reason Magazine article don't inspire confidence: "Yet I don't remember any reviewer in any print publication ever disclosing that the record, the movie, the meal or the vacation was free." Lastly, it seems like Rebecca and I were set up to have opposing viewpoints, since we seem to be on the same page. Oh well, at least they spelled my name right :P I have a few quotes bookmarked under the tag FTC Endorsement Guidelines for further reading.