Free Speech vs. Libel: Who Wins?

Last week, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) announced a new set of rules to govern bloggers with a connection to any company selling a product they are writing about. So, how far will the government go?  Right now, it’s unclear, but the guidelines could extend to regulate posts people make on Facebook and other social networking sites.

So what does this mean for our 1st amendment rights?
•    The government will have the ability to further dictate the parers of individual communication via the Internet.
•    Several new questions arise about what exactly constitutes blogola and disclosure. (For those unblog-savvy types, “blogola” refers to posts made by bloggers who have been given some sort of incentive to post about a product.)  Should the disclosure be written in the post or can it be in the bloggers “about me” page? Is blogola really that different than traditional forms of advertisement and promotion?

However, here at IMI, we do believe that there are two sides to every story:

•    Libel is illegal. Defamation is illegal. Do they still happen frequently?  Yes.  Do they happen on the Web?  Way too often, but it’s not rigorously regulated online at the moment.  These new regulations will hold people responsible for their blog posts, which is a logical extension of current laws surrounding these concepts.
•    Has anyone ever posted anything nasty about you or someone you know on ripoffreport.com, juicycampus.com, etc.?  These sites continue to pop up every day, constantly grow in usage and exposure, and have significantly injured the reputations and careers of many.

So, what’s fair?  What do YOU think?  We’re interested, let us know…

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