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Blogging & Social Media is Mightier than the Sword

The Blog is Mightier Than the Sword

It all started with a post by Deborah Yao, AP Business Writer. It is now all over the net.

Excerpts below

The Federal Trade Commission is drafting new rules that would extend its authority to encompass bloggers who promote products in exchange for compensation or giveaways. The FTC’s new oversight could be quite extensive, even covering the common marketing practice of affiliate links, as the Associated Press reports:

New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest. It would be the first time the FTC tries to patrol systematically what bloggers say and do online. The common practice of posting a graphical ad or a link to an online retailer — and getting commissions for any sales from it — would be enough to trigger oversight.

As blogging rises in importance and sophistication, it has taken on characteristics of community journalism — but without consensus on the types of ethical practices typically found in traditional media.

Journalists who work for newspapers and broadcasters are held accountable by their employers, and they generally cannot receive payments from marketers and must return free products after they finish reviewing them.

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If the guidelines are approved, bloggers would have to back up claims and disclose if they’re being compensated — the FTC doesn’t currently plan to specify how. The FTC could order violators to stop and pay restitution to customers, and it could ask the Justice Department to sue for civil penalties.

Certainly, bloggers ought disclose compensation arrangements, gifts, and conflicts of interest, and most reputable bloggers already do, but do we really need the FTC to keep its eye on every amateur blogger with a coupon?

Video Response

Here is a video response from Daud08 that brings the point home.  The whole article from Deborah Yao is expounded upon as he takes a deeper look into the implications of the FTC rules.

Blogging is mightier than the sword

“The pen blog is mightier than the sword” means a person can cause people to change their opinions(e.g., to fight a war)and on a large scale whereas a sword can only change a peron’s opion by force and then often only results in the person’s death.

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America considered the pen to be mightier than the sword, and therefore were able to gain the freedom of America by uniting the colonists.

We have seen the power of social media this week in following the Iranian citizens yearning for their freedom.  This is not a door we want to see opened from the FTC.  Again, not saying profits shouldn’t be disclosed but we don’t need anyone looking over our shoulders to see what we write.

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I believe the consumers are capable of deciding what to read, what to write and what to purchase. We don’t need the government looking over our shoulders and eliminating our Freedom of Speech. This is a slippery slope.

Hollywood stars endorse products all the time on everything, they are paid for attaching their name to the product. Does it cause everyday Joe’s to buy something? Yes or it wouldn’t be an effective method of advertising.  Most of the actors or athletics probably don’t even use the products. I believe the majority of the American people are smarter than to run out and buy a product they read about on a blog without considering the source.

Photo Credit

Written By

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.



  1. Elaine Reese

    June 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Well, first of all with all the serious things going on in the world, bloggers getting free lunches for food reviews should be the least of the gov’t worries.

    Perhaps, the Fed should put their own house in order by requiring politicians to disclose that when they recommend a certain program or bill or project, that they’re doing so based on lobbyists’ donations.

    Now my real question is, when I blog about a new listing, will I have to disclose that if I get the home sold, I’ll earn a certain fee when that happens? I’ll benefit financially from the recommendation I’m making on the home. Is that really any different than recommending a certain restaurant and receiving a free meal?

  2. Missy Caulk

    June 25, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Good points Elaine that is what I meant by not cracking the door open. If you read the article one mom made 800.00 something. Big deal.

  3. Joe Loomer

    June 25, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Big Brother needs to back the heck up. Although it’s typical for government size to grow in recessions, this is the last thing we need.

    This certainly has the potential to steam roll into something it was not intended to do – much like other government regulations and their unintended consequences.

    What happens when an agent blogs about sponsoring a softball team or school outing? The intent is to be compensated through referral business, but how is that measured? I suspect we’re on the eve of the next blog feces tempest with this one Missy – much in the MIBOR/NAR/Paula Henry vein. This one has much broader implications of course.

    Thanks for continuing to keep your eyes focused on the horizon and making sure the rest of us get in the loop very quickly.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  4. Missy Caulk

    June 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Joe, I think if we are going to be treated to the same standards of Journalist we need press passes to all the BIG events, don’t you?

  5. Joe Loomer

    June 26, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Wish I’d had that press pass to see my Steelers in the Super Bowl last February!

    Did you see how the prez of NAR is enroute DC to lobby changes to the HVCC guidlines?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Mark Jacobs

    June 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    It is hard enough to make a living as a Realtor. We don’t need the Fed trying to figure out how to get more of my money.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    June 27, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Missy – Press passes to all the big events? We should get them anyway! Every real estate blogger I know is one part agent, one part journalist. We report the news, just on an even more local scale. And even if you don’t write about the local cat stuck in a tree, isn’t blogging about real estate really just blogging the news? Your blogging about the economy in the smallest sense. Each house purchased causes a wave of other economic activity. It’s on a small scale, but done en masse, it is one of the primary drivers of economic ups and downs.

    Having to worry about “did I say this correctly” will only make the blogs become dry and less personal. At that point we might as well turn in our writing credentials and just pay another monthly fee to someone who can do it for us and do it the “right” way.

  8. MIssy Caulk

    June 27, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Exactly Matthew, it is a slippery slope. Big guys when first passed, normal bloggers tomorrow.

    We don’t need to worry about what we write or referring a small company’s products.

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