As are most of the bloggers in Blogland, I'm keeping my eyes on the FTC. For some reason, they're cracking down on product endorsements on blogs, and it is rumored that things are going to get mighty uncomfortable for book reviewers. I happen to be one of those book reviewers, and so I might find myself a little uncomfortable. I guess we'll see what the upshot is by the time we're done, but in the meantime, I'd like to share a few thoughts.
1. The first Amendment of the Constitution grants me freedom of speech. I have the right to say, or write, anything I like, whether in private or in public. I have the right to blog about whatever I want to blog about, and if I write something that offends my readers, they can either comment about it or they can stop reading my blog. We have the freedom to share our thoughts and opinions. We don't have to like what others say, and we don't have to agree with them, but the right to say it is protected under the Constitution. Right now, I'm going to use this freedom of speech I've been given to say that limiting what a blogger can blog about is unconstitutional.
2. I think the FTC is worried that if bloggers are given free products, they'll write a really glowing review about that product, even if it's crappy. Well, anyone who's been reading my blog for more than about thirty seconds knows that I say what I think. If something stinks, I will tell you it stinks. In fact, last week I met a friend's new husband for the first time, and he said, "You're the opinionated one." Yessir, that's me. I've never written a glowing book review for a book that didn't glow, and I don't intend to start now. Giving me a free book does not entitle you to a good review. Now, I have been known to contact the sender of a book and tell them I'd rather not review it, because anything I said would be largely uncomplimentary, but I've always passed the copy on to another reviewer or discarded it at the publisher's request. But don't be fooled into thinking that free books will win my loyalty. It takes chocolate to do that ...
If the FTC would like me to post a disclaimer on my blog, stating that I received the book for free, okay, I can do that. It'll take me roughly thirty seconds. But if it goes further than that, and we are regulated as to what we can and cannot blog about, that's going to get mighty uncomfortable for the FTC. You can't just run around violating constitutional rights and expect people to be happy about it. So yes, I'll be very interested indeed to see how this all plays out. I'm hoping it's a whole lot of brouhaha for nothing.