If a tango blogger gets invited to attend a milonga for free and then writes a rave blog post about it, is it necessary to disclose the getting-in free card? It just might be as of last December 1st under the new FTC Disclosure Guidelines.
And every time a tanguera bloguera gushes over her new Comme Il Fauts, does she have to clarify that she paid full price for them? Well, no, I guess she would only have to disclose if she got them gratis.
From time to time tangocherie reviews books, movies, concerts, videos and theater events that are of interest to the readers of this blog. I hope it's obvious that nothing but my honest opinion will ever appear here.
I reviewed many many books for publication in professional journals during my career as a librarian in Los Angeles, and critiqued theatrical dance events for the local newspaper. The traditional pay is one's salary and often a copy of the book, or of course, a pair of house seats to the event, "product in kind." Attempts to throw the fight for cash are rare because the stakes are too small and the integrity of librarians and dance-lovers too high. A critic, or blogger, or columnist, has to uphold his ethics or his "opinion"--his bread and butter-- is worthless.
Most of the books I've reviewed on this blog I've bought myself. One was sent to me with a request for review by its author, and when I posted honestly that I had problems with it, he proceeded to demand that I rewrite the review and when I refused, he harassed me for several months. I don't think my negative review hurt his sales at Amazon, though, just his ego.
The truth is, aside from that one disgruntled author, few people care what a small blogger thinks about a major product, and if readers disagree with the review or blog post, they can express themselves in a comment. But now the FTC is clamping down on payola, ("pay to play" in the music industry.)
But star-powered endorsements sell, and big blogs with high traffic can sell a lot of product, especially if there's a convenient purchase button on the same page.
The FTC can now, as of a couple of weeks ago, fine bloggers up to $11,000 usd for false claims and endorsements paid for by sellers if the financial relationship is not disclosed.
This naturally only applies to those blogs "published" in the U.S., and enforcement seems impossible.
You can read more about it on Mashable: the Social Media Guide (one of my favorite sites.)
Louis Gray.com offers some helpful hints to bloggers about how to disclose.
But don't worry--there's no schwag bag in the life of tangocherie!
And there is never any free lunch! (Unless Ruben is making his famous Empanadas Tucumanas.)
Disclosure icons by Jeannine Schafer