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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: ftc, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 13 of 13
1. Kickstarter Fail – A Federal Offense?

The Doom That Came to Atlantic City - and KickstarterThe Federal Trade Commission has just sent a press release touting its first successful action against a failed Kickstarter campaign.

The FTC’s mission is to protect consumers from false or misleading advertising, and as part of its new FinTech program the agency is developing new strategies for curbing deceptive practices online. Target #1: The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, a crowdfunded vaporware boardgame that netted more than $122,000 for its would-be creator.

Anyone planning to start a Kickstarter campaign might want to consider what the FTC found wrong with this failed campaign and the penalties imposed in the resulting settlement. And if you’re wondering what this case could mean for the future, the FTC is hosting a Twitter chat with its attorneys today (Thursday, June 11) from 2-3pm.

Here’s the scoop from the FTC’s press release:

In its first case involving crowdfunding, the Federal Trade Commission has taken legal action against the deceptive tactics of a project creator who raised money from consumers to produce a board game through a Kickstarter campaign, but instead used most of the funds on himself. The defendant has agreed to a settlement that prohibits him from deceptive representations related to any crowdfunding campaigns in the future and requires him to honor any stated refund policy….

According to the FTC’s complaint, Chevalier represented in his Doom campaign on Kickstarter.com that if he raised $35,000, backers would get certain rewards, such as a copy of the game or specially designed pewter game figurines. He raised more than $122,000 from 1,246 backers, most of whom pledged $75 or more in the hopes of getting the highly prized figurines. He represented in a number of updates that he was making progress on the game. But after 14 months, Chevalier announced that he was canceling the project and refunding his backers’ money.

Despite Chevalier’s promises he did not provide the rewards, nor did he provide refunds to his backers. In fact, according to the FTC’s complaint, Chevalier spent most of the money on unrelated personal expenses such as rent, moving himself to Oregon, personal equipment, and licenses for a different project.

Under the settlement order, Chevalier is prohibited from making misrepresentations about any crowdfunding campaign and from failing to honor stated refund policies. He is also barred from disclosing or otherwise benefiting from customers’ personal information, and failing to dispose of such information properly. The order imposes a $111,793.71 judgment that will be suspended due to Chevalier’s inability to pay. The full amount will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

This case is part of the FTC’s ongoing work to protect consumers taking advantage of new and emerging financial technology, also known as FinTech. As technological advances expand the ways consumers can store, share, and spend money, the FTC is working to keep consumers protected while encouraging innovation for consumers’ benefit.

4 Comments on Kickstarter Fail – A Federal Offense?, last added: 6/14/2015
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2. Privacy in the App World: Learn About It Now

iphone home screen Over the past few weeks there have been several news stories about the ways in which mobile device apps can, and do, infringe on the privacy of users. The news pretty much broke when it was discovered that the social app, Path, was copying user address books without notifying users of that. Since the Path news came to light, people have discovered that that app was, and is, not the only app copying user information without notice.

As the Washington Post noted in their article on the FTC report regarding privacy, apps, and children the landscape in the area of apps and privacy is something like the digital wild west. It’s all new territory and developers and users are learning what works and doesn’t work and how to marry safety and privacy with business. Many of us are now at least a bit savvy about user privacy in a web-based social media world. A world in which Facebook changes its privacy features on what seems like a weekly basis and Google is making changes to their privacy policy on March 1. Now is the time to become savvy about privacy in a mobile device/app world and to have conversations with teens about how they stay safe in these environments. A good way to get started is to:

  • Read the articles linked above to become familiar with the issues and also take a look at this short slideshow, from Larry Magid of SafeKids.com, about ways to make sure your privacy is protected in the app world.
  • Start talking with teens about the apps they use and how they can guarantee that when they use them their privacy is protected. Brainstorm ways that they can check-out how an app does and doesn’t use personal information. Perhaps setup a project in which teens do some research in order to find out what apps have the best privacy track record and which are lacking.
  • Become familiar with apps. If you haven’t used apps on a smartphone or tablet make sure you spend some time doing just that. Ask friends, teens, or colleagues if you can take a look on their devices if you don’t have one yourself. The only way to really be informed is to have some first-hand experience. A great way to find out what apps are worth checking out is via the YALSA App of the Week column on this blog.
  • Don’t assume that because of these breaches that all apps are bad and people should just stop using them. That’s not true, all apps aren’t bad. And, people aren’t just going to stop using them. Apps provide a great deal of useful tools and information to children, teens, and adults. We all just have to get really smart about what’s going on behind the scenes. In his New York Times article Nick Bilton gets to this point very well when he states, “The argument that if consumers care about their privacy they shouldn’t use these technologies is a cop-out. This technology is now completely woven into every part of society and business. We didn’t tell people who wanted safer cars simply not to drive. We made safer cars.”

Now is the time to gain the skills and

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3. Ypulse Essentials: BK Backs VGAs, FTC Raises Red Flags In Virtual Worlds, MTV Calls Off 'It's On'

Burger King backs VGAs online (sponsoring Spike TV's live webcast of the "Video Game Awards." TeenNick airs the Halo Awards to honor philanthropic teens. Plus Sony picks up the gaming honors for its international Animax channels. And teens and... Read the rest of this post

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4. Ypulse Youth Site Profile: Admongo.gov

Earlier this week in Essentials we announced the launch of Admongo.gov a new edutainment initiative from the Federal Trade Commission and its Bureau of Consumer Production, to educate tweens about advertising literacy. As promised, we checked it... Read the rest of this post

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5. Ypulse Essentials: MTV Vs. Vevo, R.I.P. 'Paste' Magazine, Sony Smack Talks Smartphones

MTV beats out Vevo (as the web's most-visited music destination — thanks to metrics that now combine MTV site traffic with Warner Music Group a la their recent ad-sales deal. Meanwhile, on Vevo's parent site YouTube four of the five... Read the rest of this post

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6. Ypulse Essentials: Kids’ Choice Award Nominations, Tweens And Tablets, Pinterest Is Addictive

We just got an eyeful of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award nominees (and we think these awards will be harder to call than the Grammys — who will win best movie: Muppets, Smurfs, Harry Potter, or Alvin & The Chipmunks?! We’ll... Read the rest of this post

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7. Important News for Bloggers

Three articles in three days have made me think that bloggers may be in the middle of the next big issue, and I want us to be prepared. First, from PBS MediaShift, an article entitled “Some Bloggers Welcome FTC Scrutiny for Paid Reviews”:

When it was reported in 2006 that the FTC would begin forcing word-of-mouth companies — which paid people to hype products to their peers — to disclose their marketing campaigns, Brian Clark predicted at the time that these rules would apply to bloggers as well. Now it looks like his prediction is coming true — and bloggers are taking the news in stride... So when the AP reported recently that the FTC would begin enforcing disclosure rules on bloggers that were paid to review products, received free products or used affiliate links, Clark wasn’t surprised.
Then The Washington Post came out with an article focused on Amazon reviewers, but with some related implications:
More commonly, reviewers at the top of Amazon’s charts say they regularly hear from publishers and wannabe authors hoping for a positive word; some prolific or influential reviewers have personal Web sites detailing the books they’re interested in receiving from publishers.
And today a New York Times article has me making changes to the way I’ll be doing what I do online:
The proliferation of paid sponsorships online has not been without controversy. Some in the online world deride the actions as kickbacks. Others also question the legitimacy of bloggers’ opinions, even when the commercial relationships are clearly outlined to readers.

And the Federal Trade Commission is taking a hard look at such practices and may soon require online media to comply with disclosure rules under its truth-in-advertising guidelines.
What will this mean for book bloggers? Perhaps nothing, as the focus seems to be to address the bloggers that are literally being paid per post (in cash or in product) to promote goods and services. There is also a lot of scrutiny in the area of expensive gifts and trips and tech products given to review for wide-reaching blogs. Book blogs are likely to stay under the radar because we’re not pulling in the numbers of readers and because there is a longstanding tradition of books being sent out for review in newspapers and journals.

However, I do think that it is an ideal time to step back and look at what we are doing. Is there a difference between a book offered for a review and books given by the publisher for contests? If a publisher offers a book and we all end up reviewing it — think The Chosen One — are we serving less as reviewers and more as an unpaid marketing machine? If a book blogger is offered a product for a group to review, does that change the dynamics of the relationship? Is there a difference between a book sent by the author and one sent by the publisher? And in all of these instances, what sort of disclosure is appropriate?

These are tough questions which will be part of a session at the KidLitosphere Conference. Many bloggers already identify in reviews which books they received from the publisher or author. I haven’t done that consistently, but I will now. Many bloggers make it clear that they are Amazon Associates, earning a small percentage of referral fees from Amazon. I have mentioned it on my blog, but I now plan to make it much clearer. I generally don’t participate in book giveaways or contests, but if I do, I’ll make sure that I am clearer about the source of the prizes. My notable exception is the 48 Hour Book Challenge, where I make it clear that the prizes are donations from authors and bloggers, or collected by me.

I’d urge you to read the articles, look at what you’re doing, and think what changes you might make. And of course, let’s talk about this — because that’s what we do.

25 Comments on Important News for Bloggers, last added: 7/29/2009
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8. Getting Stuff and Making Money

The Federal Trade Commission is expected to vote this summer on new ethical guidelines for bloggers. While the revised guidelines will apply to all bloggers, FTC public affairs specialist Betsy Lordan told CNN, “Some of the bigger challenges include the mommy blogger issue and the extent to which the blogger must disclose a relationship with an advertiser.”
This CNN article talks about a Public Relations Blackout challenge that Momdot is holding this week in an effort to return to the spirit of community, sharing, and stellar writing that has been taken over by controversy, jealousy, and product reviews. I am concerned that we aren’t taking the meltdown that’s occurring there and learning the lessons so we can avoid it here.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen several discussions about review copies, free bookshelves, advertising, professionalism, and making money. I could write a week’s worth of posts on any of the topics, but in the interest of being direct, I’m presenting the core of my thoughts on each issue. I’ve included links to posts that expand on each topic.
  1. Free books and ARCs aren’t at issue for book bloggers given the necessity and history of review copies distributed to reviewers in print and online. However, being transparent about the books received from publishers makes it easier to recognize and avoid further problems with receiving other products. [More on bloggers and commercialism at Boston Bibliophile.]

  2. Many things can’t really be “reviewed,” no matter how it’s phrased in the pitch, which makes it closer to being paid in product to write about it. There are two issues here — whether you can objectively analyze something of value that was received at no cost and if an analysis of the product would truly be of use to your readers. [Also, watch for jealousy: J. Kaye’s Book Blog.]

  3. Publishers Weekly and other journals can take ads because there isn’t a direct benefit to the reviewers. The wall between sales and writers is what helps to prevent a conflict of interest. As a blogger, you are both writing the reviews and taking the money from advertising which makes it much harder to retain objectivity. [Read more on publishing and blogs at Tea Cozy.]

  4. For the most part, blogging should be approached as a creative outlet, writing practice, or networking opportunity. There shouldn’t be an expectation of free stuff or making money, no matter how much time and energy you put into it. [Read more on publishing and blogs at Tea Cozy.]

  5. However, that doesn’t mean that bloggers shouldn’t act professionally. In the book world, there are so very few “professional bloggers” and they make so little money that the phrase is practically meaningless. If you are getting free books or ARCs on any sort of regular basis, you have a responsibility to act in a professional manner. [Professionalism at Chasing Ray.]
When I was alerted to the upcoming PR-Free week by Bloggasm, I didn’t see the need to mention it because I felt like our community was immune to such things. Obviously, as book review blogs we can’t be free of reviews. However, it can be a week where we spend some time educating ourselves about the issues, discussing the possible implications, and drafting our personal policies. What does it mean to you to Blog with Integrity?

13 Comments on Getting Stuff and Making Money, last added: 8/13/2009
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9. Book Bloggers and the FTC

Well, this is going to get interesting.

The Federal Trade Commission has come up with its final guidelines on regulating endorsements and testimonials which will indeed affect bloggers. The first hint of the problem is in the title of the report itself which specifies endorsements and testimonials.

But book reviews are not advertising endorsements or testimonials, are they?

Ah, I answer that question with another question. Have you noticed how freely the word review has been thrown around the blogosphere, especially in the pitches by companies? Have you wondered how one "reviews" a bookshelf or swingset or Tungsten Rings?

You see, the business were very savvy about this coming development and hoped to tie the issues together by linking the word review to what are obvious endorsements being paid for in product. I've been watching this going on with the mommy bloggers and gritting my teeth, while remaining hopeful that the FTC would know the difference between a review and an endorsement. I talked about it here in July saying that "Book blogs are likely to stay under the radar because we’re not pulling in the numbers of readers and because there is a longstanding tradition of books being sent out for review in newspapers and journals."

I may have been wrong. Mostly in making the assumption that the FTC would address this issue with, um... intelligence. The eighty-one page final guidelines have only caused more questions that the FTC doesn't seem to define or understand. I saw it through my book blogger eyes, but niche groups everywhere have questions and concerns as shown in this article from Wired.

But as a book blogger, I'm very concerned that Richard Cleland of Bureau of Consumer Protections had this to say in a conversation with Ed Champion about getting books for review:

You can return it,” said Cleland. “You review it and return it. I’m not sure that type of situation would be compensation. ”If, however, you held onto the unit, then Cleland insisted that it could serve as “compensation.” You could after all sell the product on the streets."
Yeah, because we all know the street value of Find My Feet. The stupidity of this statement is mindblowing. And frightening.

Chasing Ray has a wonderful post about how this would look to the publishers. In case you're wondering, Not Good. There is no way that book bloggers would want the responsibility and expense of returning books with a receipt so they couldn't be declared as income. There is no way that the publishers would want the responsibility and expense of tracking those returned books. It's illogical that I could receive dozens of books from a publisher, but only have to declare as "income" the one that I review - because I've now endorsed it.

In fact, it's the idiocy of this concept along with the long tradition of print media receiving books for review that gives me hope. Because the guidelines as written and as they want to be applied to book bloggers are just too stupid to exist. That said, they won't disappear by us not talking about them. We do need to make some noise. Bloggers are good writers, obviously, so dash off a letter to the FTC, your congressman, the local paper. Your publisher.

Galleycat has been turning out a lot of information on this new development, but we can't let Ron Hogan and Ed Champion go this alone. And I'm not just talking about bloggers. Publishers, editors, and authors better make their case too because the FTC regulations as they are being interpreted could shut down a source of book reviews and interviews just as newspaper reviews are in a death spiral. Publishers may have thought that the FTC had nothing to do with them, evidenced by the fact that they are not noted as having submitted comments to the proposed regulation (pg 3). Big mistake because this is going to be an issue for all involved parties and we can't let it be left up to people completely ignorant of how the publishing industry works to determine how it's going to work from now on.

Now, the bright spot is how completely relevant KidlitCon09 seems right now - especially our panel about the relationship of bloggers, authors, and publishers. There's still space available. Register now and be part of the conversation.

8 Comments on Book Bloggers and the FTC, last added: 10/7/2009
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10. CARU Annual Conference: Advertising To Kids 2.0

Yesterday I attended the CARU Annual Conference here in New York and had a chance to listen to expert panelists discussing the challenges currently facing the Children’s Advertising Industry. In keeping with the theme, "Advertising to Kids... Read the rest of this post

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11. Mo, Webcasts, Booklights, FTC

The webcasts from National Book Festival are up, which includes the one of Mo Willems with my daughter as Piggie! If you want watch that part - and of course you do - it is about halfway through the webcast at the twelve minute mark. You'll also see Mo's daughter Trixie of Knuffle Bunny fame. Watch it and come back and be excited with me.

Today my post over at Booklights is picture books about babies. Go add some favorites to the comments.

The interpretation of the Federal Trade Commission guidelines are making things look either HUGE or no big deal for book bloggers, so we'll be waiting to see how it shakes out. There is a great post at Boston Bibliophile with a lawyer's viewpoint and Chasing Ray is asking for - and receiving - a response from publishers. What are you hearing around the interwebs?

3 Comments on Mo, Webcasts, Booklights, FTC, last added: 10/10/2009
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12. Dear FTC and Readers

Dear FTC and Readers:

Publishers send me books to review. On the sidebar, I have a list of such publishers that I think needs to be updated. I also get copies from conferences. Or from friends.

When books are sent, there is no expectation on either side; publishers may or may not send books. I may or may not review.

Personally, I don't finish books I don't like; I prefer to concentrate on books I like; so it's rare for me to do a "hate this" review. I do review critically; and I have been known to be snarky when deserved. I post reviews based on what is best for this blog, taking into consideration a lot of factors. All my choices -- not the decision of a publisher, or publicist, or author, or fill-in-the-blank.

Publishers who donate copies for review have no expectation of anything when they submit books; as a matter of fact, if a publisher raises that expectation, even for something like when a review will be posted, I refuse the copy.

Review copies expands the numbers of books I review beyond what my library has or my bookstore has. Without the review copies, the books available to me for review would be limited by the collection development person at the library, the buyer for the bookstore, or the professional reviews of books.

I review books. I do not endorse products or publishers. Publishers are not my advertiser; I am not their endorser. I write reviews.

I disclose when I receive review copies because I think it helps the reader to know how and where reviewers get books and transparency is never bad.

What do I do with the books afterwards? Sometimes, the books are now marked up, notated for reviewing purposes. Pages have fallen out. A post-it may inadvertently tear a page. Some books are held onto, to reread as I try to guess who will win what award. The majority of the books are donated, given away, passed along. I don't sell them; and if they are donated to organizations, I do not take a tax deduction for that donation.

Hope that clears some things up.

Liz B/ Tea Cozy

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

6 Comments on Dear FTC and Readers, last added: 10/12/2009
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13. Ypulse Essentials: Rolling Stone Restaurants, Youth Impact Report 09, Friendster Relaunches

Don't call it 'Planet Hollywood' (Rolling Stone announces plans to open a large-scale restaurant and nightclub in LA. Also MTV offers a 360-degree video of tonight's broadcast of the Woodie Awards) (Los Angeles Times) (CNET) - Facebook and real... Read the rest of this post

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