FTC Closes First Blogger Endorsement Investigation

I haven't taken a close look at the FTC's blogger endorsement rules - which I gather cover when bloggers must disclose conflicts of interest and freebies, and what steps companies must take in order to prevent bloggers from blogging about freebies and companies with which the blogger has a material relationship without disclosure.  Truth be told, I've never sat down and read the FTC's recently promulgated guidelines: [pdf] "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising". 

My thinking has always been that at least when it comes to blogs, the "problem" is overblown.  There's just not that many undisclosed free items discussed by bloggers that improperly sway the thinking of consumers and readers.  Most bloggers are driven by common sense and some sort of sense of responsibility to their readers; they do the right thing for the most part.  Blog readers are fairly savvy (maybe more than TV viewers?) and they can figure out what's what.  I've also thought that bloggers paid a disproportionate amount of attention to the rules and their promulgation.  I'm not talking about law bloggers, who discussed this issue for obvious reasons, but more about bloggers who were telling other bloggers that the sky will fall on the blogosphere when these new rules went into effect.  The prospect of the FTC cracking down on a blogger for an isolated incident of blogging without adequate disclosure seemed pretty far-fetched.  (My thinking is somewhat colored by the blogs that I read, so take this with a grain of salt.  This may be a rampant problem in a corner of the blogosphere that I don't frequent.)

Anyway, the FTC recently closed an investigation of Ann Taylor around whether these rules were violated.  A few people have blogged about the FTC's closure of its investigation:

Ad Law By Request: "FTC Issues Closing Letter in Gift to Blogger Case"
Prof. Goldman: "FTC Drops Investigation of Advertiser Who Gave Gifts to Bloggers
Chris Vail:  "Thoughts on the FTC's Blogger Endorsement Investigation"
All three of these posts are worth reading.  I don't have anything of consequence to add on this topic at the moment, but I thought it was worth point out these posts.
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