Where would we be without rules and regulations? Some say that life would be much happier, easier, less burdened by paperwork and I can definitely agree with the last sentiment. At the same time, though, we would all be open to so much abuse from the unscrupulous, from tricksters, marketers, industry and advertizing we’d hardly be able to screw our heads on each morning.
Now, many may feel that this doesn’t apply to web logs, to their small piece of the Internet where they can – and often do – write exactly what they want, but the rules and regulations are changing. For those out there who wish to monetize their blogs, there are a whole mess of regulations which have to be adhered to, whether we want to or not. Sponsored posts is one major part of all this, with the FTC governing what is allowed and what can be called unacceptable. To this end they have a wonderfully long and involved document which outlines how sponsored articles, supplied free of charge to the reviewer, must be labeled on a web site.
Photo Credit: loop_oh – Creative Commons
And, although the FTC may not be monitoring blogs actively, those regulations apply to bloggers just as much as anyone else. If I receive a book to review, free of charge, from an author or publisher, whether it be through Goodreads or some other source, I need to acknowledge that fact. I have gained, according to the FTC, a material advantage, and there is the possibility of bias in my review. The fact that I have only received a book and not been physically paid to write on a subject makes no difference at all. I didn’t go out and buy the item of my own free will with my own hard-earned cash, it was gifted to me in the hope that I would write positively about it, would add to the marketing effort.
And the rules change now and then. It used to be that a special page outlining the policies of a site with regards to sponsored reviews was enough. That is no more. Now each sponsored review, post, mention or whatever has to be clearly labeled as such in the post itself.
So, that is what I’ve been doing with my free time today: going through all my back posts and reviews and checking that they meet up with the new regulations. It may be that no one from the FTC will find their way to this end of the Internet, but it’s always best to be on the safe side of things, always best to do the right thing under the law. And it makes little difference if that law, from the USA, necessarily applies to me personally here in Germany, it does apply to those who have supplied me with some books, who have sponsored me to write fashion or other articles. Just the same as, now that Google is stiffening up its requirements, I have had to make as many links to outside sites ‘no follow’ as I can, I need to protect the reputations, the pocketbooks of those who pay me, those who send me merchandise. If I do not, they suffer and, as a direct result, I can suffer too. I might not get as many books to review in the future, I could be blocked out of the Goodreads First Read program for not adhering to the rules.
Fortunately this is a small thing for me, there haven’t been all that many sponsored posts or reviews yet. That is the point, though, yet. I’m hoping that it will continue, that it might even pick up a touch. Why cut the hand which might feed me in the future? Better to do it now than have to go through hundreds of posts in the future and bring them up to the mark? Some things just shouldn’t be put off to another day, simple as that.
Love & Kisses, Viki.