Thursday, March 14, 2013

Google Reader's demise and the FTC's need for clear[er] and [more] conspicuous disclosures

Two headaches in two days have shriveled my desire to blog going forward.

So, yesterday Google announced that it will be killing off Google Reader as of July 1, 2013. Now, if you use Google Reader you've no doubt been apprised of this news since you (like me) were greeted by a pop-up announcement when you logged in to read your feed last night. There are lots of other options (Lifehacker's Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives post discusses some of them and provides instructions on how to migrate over your feeds), but I'm unhappy on principle. I spend more time in Google Reader than I do on Facebook and I hate having it ripped away from me. I'll use this forced change (Reader-substitute to be determined) to weed my subscriptions, but I remain stubbornly resistant.

Also this week (Tuesday actually, but I didn't learn about it until today) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a document explicating disclosure requirements for online advertising. The blog Beauty and Fashion Tech has a thorough overview of the new guidelines and how they impact bloggers: For Bloggers: How to Comply With The New FTC Guidance on Disclosing Products Provided For Review.
Now, as I understand it, if I want to continue posting reviews in my usual manner, I will need to make the following changes:
  1. explicitly state next to each Powell's link that I would receive a 7.5% commission on what you buy if you buy anything at after clicking through to the store via my link
  2. make the first line of my post a statement that I received a copy of the book in question from someone/some entity to review if I happen to be posting about a review copy of that book (first line because I usually start the post with a title and author header that includes a link to the book's listing at, 7.5% commission) while also keeping the end-of-post disclosure statement I already use in these instances
Of course I could also stop linking to any store sites, which wouldn't be too onerous considering that I've made all of $100.13 in the 6+ years that I've had this blog.  In the interest of full disclosure, $93.04 (plus ~$5 of my own money) was used to buy and ship the prizes for my 5-year anniversary giveaway and $7.09 is sitting unclaimed in my partner account.  But what of all the older posts?  I have neither the time nor the inclination to go back and edit ~930 posts to remove or annotate links.

The need to include the disclosure statement both at the beginning and at the end of the post irks me. It's unnecessarily repetitive, I think, especially given the clientele of a book blog (i.e. people who actually read and, hopefully, pay attention to what they are reading).

And, what bothers me more than anything else is that I have to worry about this when makeup companies can get away with using false eyelashes in mascara ads.


  1. Google Reader IS NOT DEAD! is the alternative. The only one!

  2. I'm with you 100%. I was very chagrined to read about this yesterday, since as far as I knew a lot of people used Google Reader. I looked at few alternatives and didn't like any of them, the interfaces were way too busy. Not sure what I'm going to do, but I'm not happy.

  3. I'm sorry, until newspapers start putting disclaimers on their book reviews in that manner, why do we have to follow suit? Receiving a book for review is not payment, if it is it is below minimum wage. When it is a review copy I disclose that fact and that should be enough.

    I have tried out Feedly which looks OK but a bit wary about their seamless transition statement. Will still be keeping my options open.