Blogging for dollars raises questions of online ethics

By March 12, 2007

Blogger Colleen Caldwell rants and riffs about whatever strikes her fancy — a run-in with her child’s school principal, the rising price of Girl Scout thin mints, an upcoming movie that caught her eye.

“Has anyone out there read a book called ‘The Ultimate Gift’? I just heard that a movie is being made of the book (which sold 4 million copies),” she wrote in a recent post on her site, Simple Kind of Life.The 30-year-old software analyst from Brooksville, Fla., went on to praise the inspirational message of the Fox Faith film, which opens today, about a trust fund baby who discovers the joy of giving. Caldwell noted that each member of the opening-weekend audience was being allowed to direct a dollar of the ticket price to a charity of the filmgoer’s choice.

One thing Caldwell didn’t mention: She was paid $12 to build buzz about the movie’s opening and the charitable campaign — bringing her blogging-for-dollars take to more than $7,700.

Thousands of bloggers are writing sponsored posts touting such diverse topics as diamonds, digital cameras and drug clinics. The bloggers are spurred by new marketing middlemen such as PayPerPost Inc. that connect advertisers with mom-and-pop webmasters.

Read full LA Times article here

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Elaine Vigneault March 17, 2007

I agree that there are ethical issues in this. In theory I think it’s fine, since people who do this are supposed to disclose to their readers that they’ve accepted money for a review or a mention in the blog, but I can see so many ways it could be abused.

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