The FTC's Freebie Rule

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that bloggers must disclose any sort of payment for any sort of product reviewed or discussed on their b
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Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that bloggers must disclose any sort of payment for any sort of product reviewed or discussed on their b

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Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that bloggers must disclose any sort of payment for any sort of product reviewed or discussed on their blog. It's something I've tried to do, though we've never had an official policy on Fashionista. We get a fair amount of free stuff over here, in fact we probably get a handful of packages each week, but we only really post product reviews once obsessed, like with my new James Twiggy jeans, or confused, like that Lancôme vibrating mascara primer. More often than not, products come after we write about something we've discovered and fallen for on our own, as a thank you. The New York Times wrote, "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," as if it's a compliment; blogs are suddenly legitimate. Which is great. Except that print publications, at least the ones we pay attention to, aren't held to the same standards.

In fact, basically every element of a fashion magazine is free, from the clothes on the editors' backs to the blonde dye in their hair. Banana Republic bracelets land in editorials because they're major advertisers, not because the stylist thinks they're perfect; the fragrance credit denoting the model's Calvin Klein scent is silly, but it pleases the major advertisers; the beauty director might put Cover Girl's mascara in the middle of her market pages even though she uses Dior, because, you got it, they're major advertisers. If a magazine was forced to disclose everything they received for free, they'd need to publish an entirely separate magazine. Before I worked in this industry, I didn't have a clue how vast the freebie system was which makes me think the average reader's also unaware. Whether an editorial can be classified as a review might be up for debate; but I'm sure more people take their styling tips from magazine editorials than blog reviews. So what's my solution? I'm not sure, but double standards make me squirm. (Also, I know the picture's irrelevant, but it's pretty and there wasn't another obvious choice.)