Posted by: Craig Mathias
Farpoint Group policies, FTC blogging regulations
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year posted new rules for bloggers regarding the endorsement of products – a step I personally applaud. In the good old days, writers, reporters, analysts, and publishers of all forms had editors to keep everyone accurate and honest. But the Web is the Wild West; protections against lies, conflicts of interest, and fraud (as opposed to honest mistakes, which, while always regrettable, do happen) are rare, as are, sadly and all too often, failures of business ethics. Blogs are, by their very definition raw, unedited, unchecked by third parties, and rife with opportunities for all manner of malfeasance.
Moreover, my particular business, technology analysis, is fraught with opportunities for ethical problems, and I feel it’s important to state our policies here. I hope every other self-publishing author and blogger, and, indeed, everyone else who publishes anything, will do the same.
Therefore, for the record:
- Farpoint Group, my employer, is in the business of providing technology analysis, strategy development, product specification and design, and product marketing services, primarily to vendors of wireless and mobile technology products, across a very broad range of markets, applications, and geography. We also work with carriers and operators, end-users, and the financial community. With respect to the latter, we are not licensed to provide advice on or sell securities, and we do not.
- Farpoint Group works on a project basis. We have no retainer-based (ongoing) relationship with any client; all projects have a finite duration and, when they end, we have no relationship (beyond, we always hope, another happy and satisfied client) with the project’s sponsor. Most projects last a few weeks to a few months. We consider all client relationships confidential; we do not now, never have, and never will publish our client list.
- Farpoint Group owns no equity in any firm of any form involved in wireless and mobile anything. I also personally own no such securities, except perhaps through managed instruments like mutual funds, over which I have no influence or control.
- Farpoint Group publishes a wide variety of documents under our brand – White Papers, Technical Notes, columns, articles, and this blog. Sometimes we get paid for these; sometimes we don’t. Regardless, Farpoint Group retains editorial control over any self-published documents bearing our brand, with no exceptions. We will not make any particular statement in exchange for payment. Our published work is ultimately our own, and our opinion is not for sale.
- Farpoint Group receives a very small stipend, assuming we publish at least 12 blog entries per calendar month, for producing this blog. IT Knowledge Exchange receives, as I understand it, compensation from advertisers, whose messages appear on pages with my work. However, no opinion expressed in this blog, or in anything else we publish, is ever influenced by a particular advertiser or sponsor. Farpoint Group has no influence of which ads appear. I am very proud to be associated with IT Knowledge Exchange and Tech Target, but their business relationships are not, have never been, and never will be a consideration in what I write – and they have never asked me to do otherwise.
- Occasionally, product vendors will send us products for review, and these reviews are occasionally published here and elsewhere, with acknowledgement as to the source of the product. Vendors regardless have no control, editorial or otherwise, over what is written about a particular product. All products used in production at Farpoint Group, without exception, are paid for and owned by the company. This includes all wireless LAN equipment, cell phones, wireless services – everything. This practice is not always common in the analyst business, but it is very important to me that we be independent. On the other hand, I admit to being biased, but those biases are based on experience and mine alone.
- And, finally, and this should go without saying, but, just to be clear, I would never knowingly publish anything that is false or misleading. I’ll acknowledge any mistakes that I find or that are brought to my attention. And I will always try to do better than whatever it was I did the day before regardless. We owe that to our customers, and our readers – and, after 18 years in business, I think we always get this right.
Please let me know if you have any questions – I think the company and I are being as open as possible here. Trust and reputation are hard to build and easy to lose. After almost 19 years in business, we value both above everything else.