Fresh off listening to Tim Banks, Teresa Wright and Rick MacLean on Island Morning, none of them brought up the recent activity in the United States around the FTC rules on blogging. The fact the FTC is starting to touch on such rules means that we're going to probably see more rules or a "code of conduct" on blogging in the future.
While we don't exactly fall under the regulation of the FTC, Canada will no doubt implement similiar rules in the future.
What the FTC did was, it released some rules that social media users (including blogs) must follow. While it is obvious, that it is going to be difficult to enforce/monitor the fact they did it was a obviously a sign its an area they are going to be watching.
Beginning December 1st, bloggers and Facebook users will have to disclose any freebies or payments they received from advertisers. So, when NBC paid (via ad.ly) Twitter user Jeremy Schoemaker $2,000 for two twitter tweets/ads, he would have to disclose that it was a paid advertisement.
So now anyone in the social media spectrum are required to let readers know of any "material connections" they have to a brand or product.
The FTC also said it will go after anyone who is posing as a customer of a company but is really on company payroll as staff. For instance, some people on the forum Crackberry.com criticize Alejandro Salomon because he knows a lot about upcoming Blackberry products. Some go as far as saying that he is employed by Blackberry (as he knows an awful lot about upcoming Blackberry related items) however he fails to disclose this and pretends to be just a customer. If the nay-sayers are right and he is a Blackberry staff member he could be in violation of the FTC rules.
While the FTC rules are more-so guidelines then laws, I am sure there's ways they could charge someone if they really wanted too.
Some more thoughts to ponder:
Say for instance that Porsche's USA head office pays Tim Banks (who really enjoys Porsche's) to write a testimonial on their cars. Tim writes up a "story" and puts it on his blog. While Tim is actually in Canada, his website is actually hosted in the United States through Google's Blogger.com service.
While I am no lawyer, I believe the fact the information is stored in the USA makes it subject to the laws of the USA and as such, the FTC may be able to go after Tim Banks if he fails to disclose the fact that Porsche paid him $x amount for that "testimonial".
Technical jumbo: The United States has a lot more data centers and as such a lot of "Canadian" content/websites are really hosted in the USA due to this fact.
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