The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it would begin regulating the relationships between bloggers and the businesses they cover. The initial response was a little skepticism–The Wall Street Journal wondered whether Tweets were too short to include proper disclosure–mixed with general reflections on How Things Are Changing.
But we may now have a coherent, full-on backlash on our hands! Slate’s Jack Shafer leads the charge with an article that calls the guidelines “preposterous” and a “mad power grab.” An editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times said that in the F.T.C.’s “zeal to distinguish honest voices from paid shills, it appears to have set a tougher standard for blogs than for traditional media”–a view echoed by fashion world types at The Cut and Fashionista, who point out the lavish freebies that fashion and beauty editors at glossies enjoy.
The general consensus seems to be that the proposed regulations are nigh-impossible to enforce, inconsistent with print standards, and too clumsy in their conception of what constitutes a potentially problematic relationship.
More importantly, though, objections reflect a sense that the F.T.C. doesn’t really get how the Internet works. As John Koblin wrote this summer of the world of food blogging, “the line between critic and enthusiast can be blurred”–for better or for worse.