Beginning Dec. 1, blogs will be subjected to the same level of oversight as other forms of media. Today, the FTC announced new regulations requiring that bloggers who review products will have to disclose any potential connection to the advertiser, such as providing the product to the reviewer for free.
As Tim Arango of The New York Times wrote today,
“More broadly, the move suggests that the government is intent on bringing to bear on the Internet the same sorts of regulations that have governed other forms of media, like television or print.”
I see this as progress for the blog medium. Blogs struggle to achieve the same recognition as other forms of media. I know I am guilty of taking information on blogs less seriously than content on newspaper Web sites. I believe this blog bias is due to origins of the blog. I remember when Xanga was popular, and every kid at school had an account. It was the Facebook of 2004. MySpace and Facebook have become the new outlets for venting and personal expression. That was my first exposure to blogging, and I think many web users are in the same boat I am. It takes time to shift from thinking of blogs as personal diatribes to thinking of them as serious media outlets for the dissemination of news and informed opinions.
“’It crushes the idea that the Internet is separate from the kinds of concerns that have been attached to previous media,’ said Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University.”
Is elevating blog status a step toward saving journalism, as Shirky discussed in his essay on newspapers?
The Times also interviews blog reviewer Christine Young.
“’I think that bloggers definitely need to be held accountable,’ said Ms. Young. ‘I think there is a certain level of trust that bloggers have with readers, and readers deserve to know the whole truth.’”
This leaves me with two thoughts: 1) Will the FTC regulations even be enforceable? I’m not convinced they can be. It seems that we haven’t been able to regulate the Internet at all yet. How is this any different? 2) Am I the only one who is left with a lingering blog bias after the Xanga era, or has everyone else moved on?
Do you think the FTC regulations are reasonable? Do you think they’re enforceable?
Do you take blog media as seriously as other forms of media? Do you ever read product reviews on blogs?