From GNU/Linux to Warhammer & back again!
No its not the name of a new movie, nor does it signify that the Microsoft faithful has stopped with their ever increasing desperate tactics (IMO). No its a piece of news which astroturfers may find worrying (that and seeing their cashcow being eaten by FOSS)
The FTC is allegedly planning to crackdown on bloggers/posters who recieve gifts/freebies for promoting products. Its a practice we have highlighted here before and one in my opinion that completely destroys the faith in “honest held belief” in the writings of many bloggers.
Ever read something praising a proprietary product where it has no resembelance to your experience? Its these type of posts which, because of the actions of certain proprietary firms means that when talking about proprietary software/products there is always a question of doubt in an honest held belief. (IMO)
The practice though is commonplace here (that being word of mouth marketing) one such company who can create a marketing buzz for you (as mentioned in the CNET article) http://izea.com/ and its worth keeping in mind when you see a person praising a product. What are their motives for doing so?
You can read the excellent CNET article here http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10269962-38.html
“The rules could be quite strict, even extending to the practice of affiliate links–for example, a music blogger who links to a song on Amazon MP3 or iTunes that earns an affiliate commission in the process.”
So why does it matter? Well appart from the free speech on the Net not being so free (IMO) it highlights why Twitter and similar social networking sites have been ruined by companies looking to push their products onto you. I remember many years ago when IRC was the target of numerous spambots and in recent times even the newsgroups have been hit less in favor of Twitter et al.
So what can you do? I make a point of boycotting any product that tries to push itself onto me, that may be by a company on Twitter pretending to be a normal user or it may be a site that is dressed up as a personal blog when in reality its a PR stage for proprietary products.
Going back to the FTC, I presume the only people who need to be concerned are going to be the US resident shills, however it does make you wonder that if the FTC is going after this practice, it must be pretty commonplace. I do think though that the world of Bloggers is far too big to effectively police, although the FTC could concentrate on the larger, more popular names and have an impact. For companies who rely on this practice, they could be quite embarrassed if it is made a requirement that you must disclose.
Next time someone tries to tell you a proprietary solution is great, take a step back and challenge it. Chances are its not the only option for you and who knows what “gifts” the person saying it has received?
And to end of a lighter note, here is an example of a “dodgy” comment by allegedly an average user on Twitter (by the way, if the writer of this is thinking of removing it from their Twitter, I already have a screendump, which will be shown in due course):
“Looking at some family pics of MJ, I can see he was a PC user, too bad he didn’t live to see Windows 7″
Answers on a postcard with the name of this legendary MS faithful poster! and I think the coment shows that there are no depths too low for the MS faithful.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org