FTC Blogger Ruling on Reviews Payments

Product Reviews and Ethics

Some bloggers have been making cold hard cash or accumulating products for their glowing reviews on anything and everything with no disclaimer of that payback. Up to this point it has been reader beware or be wary of what a blogger is touting. The FTC has now declared that the blogosphere will have to abide by the same rules as newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations. There must be a disclosure if they are receiving any money or freebie for their review.

We will go a step beyond the FTC ruling. We will determine reliability of a positive review based on whether or not we believe there are marketing dollars involved. However, in the rare instance that there is a review site that we still think does a very credible job but they disclose payments, we might include the site in our listings. We will make it perfectly clear as long as we are aware of the payments. We will call out those that we believe are editorial reviews heavily influenced by marketing dollars.  While getting free products to facilitate the review process in and of itself isn’t terrible, it concerns us when we hear of a site that accepts cash or freebies directly or indirectly as a result of positive reviews.

There will always be some reviewers that somehow skirt the issue with the thin veil of the “payout” being offered in the form of marketing dollars. We can’t do anything about their ethical standards but we certainly will try to avoid that reviewer and/or site as long as we are aware of their indiscretion.

It is not apparent whether the new FTC ruling will affect websites that are well respected for their reviews but are not blog sites. One would hope they are included in the ruling as well.  It is our supposition that this initial ruling is intended to trend lightly and only lay the ground work for potential future regulation and/or legislation.

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