This article deals with a very interesting legal and ethical issue with social media (“U.S. Seeks to Restrict Gift Giving to Bloggers,” The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2009, subscription required – don’t subscribe? click here). The government continues to try to stay ahead of technology and promotion. As we have all seen, online reviews and bloggers are having an increasing influence on consumer decision-making. Now bloggers have to disclose if they receive any money or free products from a marketer.
Looking for some multimedia to enhance the in-class (or out-of-class) experience? Here are three options.
- You could assign the students to listen to the NPR radio coverage of this issue in their story “FTC: Bloggers Must Disclose Paid Endorsements.”
- Or have students check out (or show in class) the SocialSpark website, which calls itself “a blog marketing network that connects advertisers with bloggers through an online marketplace.”
- Finally, there is a WSJ.com video (see below) where some experts discuss the challenges of actually enforcing this law.
You could show some of these in class and discuss the ethics involved. It might be interesting to pose the question: If more bloggers shill for marketers, does this source of information lose credibility with consumers?