The Endorsement Police Will Get You

In the interests of full disclosure, I would like to admit that I was sent this Potato-that-looks-like-a-duck. You can almost hear it quacking!

king-duck-potato

I think it’s a great duck-like-potato, and I’m sure it will taste even better when mashed because of its duckiness.

Difficult to enforce and not really aimed at plebian rabble (tautology?) like me, but still, there is a case to be made for getting indignant on principle. If one doesn’t get outraged for one’s principles, when should one bother?

First, it’s okay to listen in to my phone conversations without a warrant. Not to mention my emails and whatever else Big Brother fancies. Then it’s ok to drag me off the street, also without a warrant, claim I’m a terrorist, and hold me for however long Big Brother damn well pleases.

Every avalanche starts with one loose rock. (Actually, they tend to start with some idiot yodelling on an unstable mountainside, but let’s not split hairs.)

Yes, it’s despicable that some companies pay people to do fake “sincere, not prompted, not paid!” reviews on their blogs or other “social media” sites. As far as I’m concerned, it’s more despicable that we don’t give a shit about massacres in Africa, and it’s more despicable that pharmaceutical companies here in the US are allowed to brainwash an entire nation into thinking a) that they’re sick all the time, or on the verge of being horribly sick, and b) that they need tons and tons of really expensive drugs to fix said sick.

And don’t get me started on lawyers, m’kay?

FTC social media rulings ftl. Unenforceable against plebian rabble, certainly, but still stupidly wrong-headed. Just like most modern government in general, really.

‘Scuse me, it’s time for my cynical pills. I got help buying them, too.

11 thoughts on “The Endorsement Police Will Get You

  1. Yeah, I didn’t realize that fake
    blogs were really that big of a problem. I mean, sure they suck, but do enough of the population even read blogs? Are we scary writers with near hundreds of followers really going to cause the collapse of the capitalist system by accepting one or two free games in the course of out writing careers?

    Whatevs, they needed something to do. Besides, it’s just evidence that mainstream America and the government still don’t quite “get” new media (despite blogging not being so much new anymore).

  2. I’d be going head-to-head with you if this was something applied unilaterally. I think transparency is important, frankly. We’re all looking at this personally but there’re some big blogs with a lot of clout (Engadget, Gizmodo, Boing Boing) and I’d like to know if they were given that shiny new phone they’re crowing about.

    BUT in fact, I agree with you that this mandate is FTL. Why? Because it apparently singles out bloggers and social media. According to a few articles I’ve read on it, Consumer Reports (for example) isn’t covered by this new system. Established publications can take handouts and press junkets and trips to see a new product in the Bahamas in mid-January and not say a word.

    Why hold bloggers to a more rigorous code than the pros? If anything, it seems to me the reverse should be true.

    i still don’t disagree with the spirit of what the FTC is saying. If a company gifts you with a product you’re going to review, you should note that in your review. Because it’s just human nature that if you shell out $500 of your own money for a gadget that doesn’t work, you’re going to be a lot harder on that gagdet than if someone just gave it to you. As a reader, I want to know where that gadget came from.

    In the end though, this is just bureaucracy and another waste of taxpayer money. There’s no way they’ll be able to enforce this. So I’m not sure what the point is, unless they’re laying groundwork for something else.

    1. Spirit of accountability, no. Smacking blogs because you can’t take the same kinds of potshots at “traditional” media is a bit cheap though.

      It bothers me in another sense, too. I’d rather educate for accountability and responsibility than legislate for it. But then again, I’m stupidly idealistic under the cynical veneer. 😉

  3. It’s not just bureaucracy, though it is that as well. It’s another oblique attack on the first amendment. If you can have any sort of legal handle like this to challenge bloggers, there is precedent for other mandates that can be more trouble. The foot in the door, as it were.

    The mainstream media is already in the hip pocket of the government. It’s a gargantuan propaganda machine. Alternative voices are a danger to that sort of information control, and the web is perhaps one of the best tools for free speech. (Hint: the only people reporting honestly about the financial and housing economic troubles are independent online sources.) We’ve seen Iran angry with Twitter, because the people embrace it. We’re not a banana republic yet here in the ‘States, but you can be sure that there are those who wish we were. The questions are: “How many of those people are making policy?” and “What can (and what will) citizens do about it?”

    (My political acrimony and distrust is nonpartisan, by the way. A bad apple is bad, no matter what color you paint it.)

    1. I haven’t been sent any either. The duck, sadly, is purely allegorical. 😉

      Oh well there was some promo material from Mythic, which was fun to get, but since it was *designed* to be shared there wasn’t any question of keeping anything seekrit.

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