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Bloggers, FTC regulations and disclosures

Blogging is just easier on a Mac

Blogging is just easier on a 15" MacBook Pro (wish I had one)

Ruh-Roh, we’ve been caught.  The FTC recently passed new regulations on bloggers.  From now on, if someone gives us something to review or asks for our endorsement of a product for some kind of renumeration, we have to admit it up front.  I know, I know, you’re probably wondering why the FTC wasn’t on top of this during last year’s primary season when Markos turned DailyKos over to the Obama campaign, no questions asked.  I mean, at least Josh Marshall was up front about taking money from the Obama campaign.  He plastered Obama ads on virtually every page and dutifully set to work trashing Hillary at every opportunity like the paid shill he was.  But, whatever, there’s no time like the present:

The F.T.C. said that beginning on Dec. 1, bloggers who review products must disclose any connection with advertisers, including, in most cases, the receipt of free products and whether or not they were paid in any way by advertisers, as occurs frequently. The new rules also take aim at celebrities, who will now need to disclose any ties to companies, should they promote products on a talk show or on Twitter. A second major change, which was not aimed specifically at bloggers or social media, was to eliminate the ability of advertisers to gush about results that differ from what is typical — for instance, from a weight loss supplement.

For bloggers who review products, this means that the days of an unimpeded flow of giveaways may be over. More broadly, the move suggests that the government is intent on bringing to bear on the Internet the same sorts of regulations that have governed other forms of media, like television or print.

“It crushes the idea that the Internet is separate from the kinds of concerns that have been attached to previous media,” said Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University.

Richard Cleland, assistant director of the division of advertising practices at the F.T.C., said: “We were looking and seeing the significance of social media marketing in the 21st century and we thought it was time to explain the principles of transparency and truth in advertising and apply them to social media marketing. Which isn’t to say that we saw a huge problem out there that was imperative to address.”

Yep, we dim bulbs in the blogosphere have to be schooled in ethics in advertising.  Actually, I was stunned to discover that companies will actually send bloggers stuff, for free, in order to get a review from them.  What could be more mutually satisfying?  The company gets a (relatively) unbiased review from a real person not working on Madison Avenue and the blogger gets to review free stuff.  Lots of it, apparently.  For example:

About three-and-a-half years ago Christine Young, of Lincoln, Calif., began blogging about her adventures in home schooling. It led to her current blog, FromDatesToDiapers.com, about mothers and families. The free products soon started arriving, and now hardly a day goes by without a package from Federal Express or DHL arriving at her door, she said. Mostly they are children’s products, like Nintendo Wii games, but sometimes not. She said she recently received a free pair of women’s shoes from Timberland.

Well, for your information, no company or politician has ever given us anything to review or endorse.  (With the exception of Eric Boelert’s book, The Bloggers on the Bus, which I dutifully read and enjoyed and disclosed.)  We’ve been doing all of this  for free.  All that stuff we said about Hillary?  Straight from the goodness of our hearts.  We just liked her.  It never occurred to us to ask for anything in return, except for excellence in governance had she been elected.  That just goes to show you how naively altruistic The Confluence is.  And we like it that way.  Because we can say whatever we like and are not accountable to anyone.


But just to be clear that we are totally on-board with the new FTC regulations, we would like to assure companies that have been holding back their products from us, that we will fully disclose any relationships with companies for products we receive and any money offered to us for endorsements as we have in the past and will do in the future.  If you are a company or institution that would like to send us free stuff for our unvarnished truth, please contact us.  Of course, we won’t take free stuff from just anyone.   We’re easy but we’re not cheap.  Here is a handy list of stuff we will review:

  • Cars
  • Houses in New Urban developments in NJ, KS, LA, CA, MA and Berlin.
  • Private Schools in NJ such as Lawrenceville, Pennington, Peddie and Hun
  • Running shoes (for over pronators with heavy heel strikes)
  • Workout clothes
  • Electronics (anything Apple for sure)
  • Clothing, size 10, M, shoes size 8 (Donna Karan, Ellen Tracy, Calvin Klein)
  • Furniture (specifically chairs, sofa tables, lighting fixtures)
  • Home improvement stores that retail bathroom vanities, mirrors, ceramic tile flooring, etc
  • House cleaning services
  • Season tickets to the NY City Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, NY Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders
  • Airline food (must be on flights to and from points outside of the continental United States, preferably Asia, South America, Australia and Africa)

Ok, we’re open for business.

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Wōden’s Day Wake-up

Wōden the Wanderer

Wōden the Wanderer

Those of us who practice that “old-time religion” know that today was named for the Anglo-Saxon god Wōden. He is the pagan god of death, battle, wisdom, discoverer of the runes and leader the Wild Hunt.

Senate Passes Pentagon Budget, War Funding
Senate on Tuesday passed a bill bringing total U.S. tab for the Afghan war to about $300 billion.

Paralysis in the Debt Markets Is Deepening the Credit Drought

A year after Washington rescued the big names of American finance, it’s still hard to get a loan. But the problem isn’t just tight-fisted banks.
The continued disarray in debt-securitization markets, which in recent years were the source of roughly 60 percent of all credit in the United States, is making loans scarce and threatening to slow the economic recovery. Many of these markets are operating only because the government is propping them up.

High Court Takes Up Case of Cross on Public Land
The cross, located on a rocky outcrop in the Mojave Desert, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the First Amendment

Two Americans, Israeli win 2009 chemistry Nobel

Two Americans and an Israeli shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for chemistry for showing how ribosomes function, work that has important implications for antibiotics, the prize committee said on Wednesday.

For antiwar protesters, the cause isn’t lost
But will Washington, D.C., rally spark a groundswell?

‘Code Pink’ rethinks its call for Afghanistan pullout

Code Pink, founded in 2002 to oppose the US invasion of Iraq, is one of the more high-profile women’s antiwar groups being forced to rethink its position as Afghan women explain theirs: Without international troops, they say, armed groups could return with a vengeance – and that would leave women most vulnerable.

Though Afghans have their grievances against the international troops’ presence, chief among them civilian casualties, many fear an abrupt departure would create a dangerous security vacuum to be filled by predatory and rapacious militias. Many women, primary victims of such groups in the past, are adamant that international troops stay until a sufficient number of local forces are trained and the rule of law established.

‘Art theft’ smells fishy, investigators say

It was reported as one of the biggest fine art thefts in history – $80 million worth of paintings by Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh and other masters spirited from a seaside home in Pebble Beach by a burglar who left a note demanding a ransom and threatening violence.

But the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that the Sept. 25 heist appears to be something else: a scam by one or both of the alleged victims, an aspiring lawyer who once sold puppies and a retired Harvard Medical School professor.

Is the Bible too liberal?
Conservapedia’s attempt to weed out “liberal bias” from modern Bible translations
(I guess nobody told them that Jeebus was a DFH moonbat librul)

Lawmakers slam Schwarzenegger over veto threat

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature could be headed for a high-stakes game of chicken as the deadline approaches at midnight Sunday for the governor to sign or veto more than 700 bills that are on his desk.

The governor has made a veiled threat to issue a mass veto unless lawmakers reach agreement on an overhaul of the state’s water system. A mass veto, legislative leaders said, would be both “silly” and inexcusable, and it would effectively wipe out nearly all the work done by the Legislature the past 10 months.

Scientists discover massive ring around Saturn
Scientists at NASA have discovered a nearly invisible ring around Saturn — one so large that it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it.

Stone circle suggests Stonehenge was part of funeral route

Archaeologists have unearthed a new stone circle near Stonehenge that lends credence to the theory that the famous prehistoric monument in Britain was part of a funeral complex.


"Are Girl Scout cookies made out of real Girl Scouts?"

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