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Ken Bone May Have Violated FTC Guidelines With Uber Tweet (vice.com) 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VICE News: In a lot of ways, unlikely presidential debate star Ken Bone is a marketer's dream. He is undecided on his political leanings (for now), inoffensive, instantly recognizable, and affable on TV and social media. So it makes sense that Uber asked him to send a promotional tweet for this week's launch of Uber's black car uberSELECT service in St. Louis, site of the debate Sunday night that launched him to fame. But there's one problem: Bone may have violated Federal Trade Commission guidelines for advertising on social media by not marking his tweet as an ad or mentioning that Uber paid him for making the tweet. "[The tweet] needs to disclose that he was compensated," said lawyer Rick Kurnit, of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein + Salz PC. "He and Uber are in violation of FTC guidelines, because Uber is also responsible for what their influencers do." The guidelines that Kurnit is referencing are pretty straightforward, and the FTC offers specific advice for how to craft sponsored posts on Twitter. "The FTC isn't mandating the specific wording of disclosures," an FTC guidelines FAQ states. "However the words 'Sponsored' and 'Promotion' use only 9 characters. 'Paid ad' only uses 7 characters. Starting a tweet with 'Ad:' or '#ad' -- which takes only 3 characters -- would likely be effective." Kurnit added that while the FTC "doesn't like" using simple hashtags for disclosures, he agrees that it might have sufficed. When VICE News initially reached out to Uber asking whether Bone was paid for the tweet, a spokesperson said the company is "providing him with Uber credit for his role in the launch." And although Bone and Uber wouldn't be fined for violating the FTC Act (Section 5 of which prohibits "deceptive advertising"), the guidelines say that "law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations."
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Ken Bone May Have Violated FTC Guidelines With Uber Tweet

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who caresssss?!?!? Is this really what's important in this election?

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by nanoflower ( 1077145 )
      No one cares. Not even the FTC. People are regularly breaking this rule because they don't know about the regulations and the FTC takes no action. I believe they are only likely to act if someone is continually breaking the rules. That would seem worthy of the effort (and expense) of taking action while taking action on what is likely 100s of people are breaking the rules each day for the first time isn't a worthwhile usage of the FTC's time.
  • Is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 13, 2016 @07:55PM (#53073331)
    Celebrities get paid ALL THE FUCKING TIME to post shit on Twitter and Instagram and there's never any mention of "this ad was paid for by...". Seriously, go to look at one of the Kardashian's Twitters or Instagrams. And in case you might be thinking it's all coincidence, I used to do IT work for a company that was paid to get celebs to do that shit.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So why don't you send the FTC details of the tweets and complain? Nothing will get done about this unless people who think it is wrong take a stand.

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      This is what I don't get. I see unmarked paid endorsements everywhere on Twitter. Why did the FTC get their panties in a bunch over this one?
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Thursday October 13, 2016 @07:58PM (#53073343)
    He didn't know so he can't be held responsible. Easy enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Her campaign worked with her Super PACs, illegal according to FEC rules.
      The DNC routed money for down ticket elections to her primary, borderline illegal according to FEC rules.
      Her campaign took millions from Saudi Arabia, illegal according to FEC rules.
      Her campaign coordinated with newspapers and didn't declare their help as donations, illegal according to FEC rules.

      Who is in trouble after all of this?
      Ken Bone, because he tweeted.

      This country is completely fucked if this is how the laws are upheld now.

    • by CanadianRealist ( 1258974 ) on Thursday October 13, 2016 @08:18PM (#53073425)
      I never tweeted that. Anyone who says I did is wrong!! and a complete liar.
    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      He didn't know so he can't be held responsible. Easy enough.

      In all seriousness, yeah... He is the little guy here, Uber most likely knows (or should have known better), I would certainly support Uber being fine significantly here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's politics for you, a nice guy spends a few minutes asking a sensible question, the next thing we know there's a scandal.

  • Total Bullsh*t (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gm a i l.com> on Thursday October 13, 2016 @08:02PM (#53073361) Journal
    This is total bullsh*t. How is this "deceptive?" And last I looked, I don't see most ads saying that they're ads. Slashdot Op Deals at the bottom of the page has ads for 6 items, none of them marked as ads. Same with ads on TV, the radio, and plenty of other web sites. Ads are obvious - even the slashvertisements.
    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

      "[The tweet] needs to disclose that he was compensated," said lawyer Rick Kurnit

      Telling other people what to do, and punishing them if they don't do it, is slavery.

      Also, if you want people to know something, then you tell them! The Streisand effect can't be stopped, and doesn't need legal help.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Like Joe the Plumber, when you embarrass a Democrat, the government WILL come after your ass.

      Just wait till Trump loses and Hillary takes office. She's notorious for getting payback - and she'll have Comey and a politicized DoJ and IRS at her bidding. Look to set half his companies destroyed within 5 years.

    • Re:Total Bullsh*t (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kiuas ( 1084567 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @02:47AM (#53074581)

      Ads are obvious - even the slashvertisements.

      They're not obvious to everyone, in fact it'd seem they're not obvious to most people. There haveve been a few studies done on how well people, especially young people recognize sponsored content as an ad [uga.edu] and the results are quite far from it being obvious:

      In the study, published in the December Journal of Advertising, Bartosz W. Wojdynski and Nathaniel J. Evans, both assistant professors in the Grady College, conducted two experiments using online news articles to examine the differences that the language and positioning of the disclosure labels make in determining whether consumers recognize sponsored articles as advertising content.

      In the first study, only 17 of 242 viewers, or 7 percent, identified the content as advertising, and in the second eye-tracking study, only 17 percent identified the articles as advertising.

      "I think that many publishers and advertisers assume that just because they put a label on the content, consumers will automatically understand that the article they're reading is a paid advertisement," Wojdynski said. "These results show that's not the case at all, although the design of the disclosure label can make a big difference."

      The first study invited subjects to read online content featuring two stories: one that was editorial content and one that was a native ad featuring a quote from the executive of a fictitious company. Twelve versions of the second story were presented, all with varying disclosure label language-"advertising," "sponsored by," "brand voice" and "presented by"-and different positions for the disclosure label-on the top, middle and bottom of the article page.

      The study found that readers were seven times more likely to identify as advertising those articles that used "advertising" or "sponsored content" in the disclosure label compared with those that used terms like "brand voice" or "presented by."

      The second study used eye tracking to determine the best position for disclosure labels within native advertising articles. When a native advertisement disclosure was at the top of the page, only 40 percent of the viewers looked at it, but when the disclosure was in the middle of the page, 90 percent looked at the label. Sixty percent of the viewers noticed advertisement labels at the bottom of a page.

      As adblocking has become easier than ever advertisers have evolved and sponsored content is the new trend, and even though to you or me it's blatantly obvious to pick these out, many people are easily deceived. So if we want to make sure advertisers cannot deceive consumers emphasizing correct labeling is important.

      • There's plenty of research done on that, both for print media and the net. "Ad blind" is a fact. Far more than 3 studies, going back to before the Intermet.
  • More like KEN BONED amiright?!!

  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Thursday October 13, 2016 @08:07PM (#53073381)

    in the election at this stage means you must have the political and social insight of a (very vertical) fence post.

  • by Nikkos ( 544004 ) on Thursday October 13, 2016 @08:31PM (#53073475)

    Seriously. A perfect example of how average individuals get fscked while the rich can do what they want. Every other fucking tweet/instagram/facebook post by a celeb is a commercial endorsement of some sort, I don't see the FTC making a fuss - until it's a (well-dressed) average American - THEN it's a problem.

  • Who??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mspohr ( 589790 )

    Who is this guy and why should I care about anything to do with him?

    • At this point I'd consider an undecided voter as someone with an IQ low enough to a ward of the state.

    • by glitch! ( 57276 )

      Who is this guy and why should I care about anything to do with him?

      Good question. I just saw this name posted somewhere with a picture of a fat guy with a mustache alongside a halloween costume for girls. Seriously, WTF?! The submitter should have given some information on who this person is. It is insulting to expect that we know who your NOBODY is.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        He's somewhat of a new meme. He was one of the "undecided voters" at the second US presidential debate and asked the final question. The combination of his name, his peculiar look, and his "Can't we all just get along?" question quickly turned him into internet fodder [buzzfeed.com].

        • by mspohr ( 589790 )

          Anybody who is "undecided" at this point is a moron.

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          He's somewhat of a new meme.

          That's nice. And for the adult audience that doesn't inhabit Teen America FaceTwat, who the fuck is he?

          Sorry, the rest of your comment does answer that. It's just the blinkered idiocy of the submitter and editor in assuming we're all trendy tumblr users that gets to me.

    • by hodet ( 620484 )

      He wears a red shirt. Just wait another 13 minutes and we will all stop talking about him.

  • by youn ( 1516637 ) on Thursday October 13, 2016 @08:50PM (#53073567) Homepage

    c'mon leave the guy alone. (1) he is new to this, last week he had less than 10 followers (2) it's not that bad, really (3) how the heck isn't it obvious it is an ad from the tweet

  • This is laughable. He can say whatever the fuck he wants. Any celebrity who is targeted by the FTC should sue. There is no possible exemption from the first amendment due to "reader stupidity". He didn't threaten anyone, incite violence, or do anything a reasonable person would see as so dangerous to society that his first amendment rights should be infringed. What is the claim, fraud? Good luck. What agreement does he have with any person to give impartial reviews, advice, or commentary on twitter?

    FTC ha

  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @12:13AM (#53074253)

    Govt says I can't say something? There's an amendment for that.

    • Govt says I can't say something? There's an amendment for that.

      Yes, that's why newsreaders regularly slander people on live TV and say "fuck" a lot.

  • I would love to see this FTC rule challenged in Court. This is a very solid example of government overreach into private speech that they have labelled "commercial" by regulatory fiat. The entire concept of regulating this type of elective speech - where private individuals have elected to use a service which enables them to access what other people have published - is gravely disturbing to me. The FTC's view that this is a form of advertising under their control is very-outdated.

    A Twitter post is much m

  • OK, ,I admit that his weird popularity is just one of those strange, unpredictable things that happens. I don't think it was part of any great plan that went any further than trying to maximize his chance of getting allowed to ask a question on TV. But why is nobody questioning Bone's claim that he's still somehow "undecided"? I mean, I guess it's possible, but he's probably just about the only person who is. And exactly how much more info does he need to make up his mind? At this point everybody has n
  • when the candidates use music from artists that do not agree (and without permission) with them at rallies, why there is no fine for using the music without authorization. When a mere mortal just downloads a song for personal use it can cost 250K. So if 1000 people are at a rally, shouldn't the fine be 250 million? And its not like the candidates don't know, as it comes up all the time, so ignorance is not an excuse.

  • I think Ken now deserves an answer from the candidates to this follow-up question, "what do you think of this fucked up situation right here?"

  • He didn't violate the guidelines. The guidelines don't specify how you have to indicate that it's an ad, you just have to indicate somehow. And he did. The link in the tweet goes to an ad that mentions him by name. The tweet is clearly part of that same campaign.

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