One of the best things the Internet gives to technology consumers is the chance to hear opinions from real people on what they feel about a certain product. Sites like Amazon and Newegg give small bits of space for user reviews, while reputable hardware sites often provide balanced analysis of new gadgets and bloggers are free to say whatever they want about any product. The latter has the FTC concerned, it seems, following a report that the agency may be heading down a path to crack down
on “unethical” bloggers.
Many people might jump up and wonder what the FTC is doing even thinking about trying to stop a blogger from posting a product review of their own. It isn't the blogging that's the problem, though, but rather potential dishonesty behind it. The commission is concerned about people getting paid by companies or getting some sort of freebie, be it a free product, a free vacation or anything else in exchange for positive reviews – and not disclosing when they receive such freebies.
Should the FTC get involved at all, however? On the one hand, the proposed guidelines are intended to clarify existing rules against deceptive and unfair business practices by specifically including bloggers for the first time. On the other hand, though, many are worried that the rules will be too strict, even extending to the practice of placing affiliate links to earn a commission from product purchases, without giving readers a heads-up first.
What’s your take, should bloggers be able to take any kickbacks they want, and let readers decide whether or not they are a credible source of information?