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#079: FTC & Amazon Crackdown on Reviews, Comments and More

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On this episode of the UnPodcast we discussed the FTC crackdown on the disclosure of material relationships. We also talked about Amazon’s new practice of disallowing reviews when they suspect the reviewer is friends with the author.

We also discussed a blog that was sued for not moderating comments, and whether or not bloggers should be liable for content left on their site by others.

Other topics include:

  • [00:01:36.16] Special guests in the studio today
  • [00:02:26.28] What we’re covering in today’s show.
  • [00:03:36.12] The secret behind our video wide shots
  • [00:03:46.17] A big problem with reviews
  • [00:05:21.05] Amazon’s data mining of personal relationships
  • [00:07:55.05] A problem that we created
  • [00:09:06.22] Amazon’s vested interest in the validity of reviews
  • [00:10:23.04] What we’ve never done
  • [00:10:42.28] Now this is against the iTunes TOS, eBay, Amazon, etc.
  • [00:11:36.27] Why not knowing someone in real life is not a good excuse
  • [00:12:59.25] Going from creepy to responsible
  • [00:13:13.08] Blogs were meant to have this
  • [00:13:31.18] A blog owner’s responsibility regarding comments
  • [00:15:15.28] The benefits and responsibility that come from building a platform
  • [00:17:33.27] 99% of the blogs won’t have to deal with this, but for those who do. . .
  • [00:18:06.10] Why Alison believes that blog comments are worth your time
  • [00:18:20.17] The likely reason for the news site leaving angry comments on their post
  • [00:19:59.02] Updated FTC guidelines
  • [00:25:01.11] The scariest part of this story
  • [00:25:25.23] This should be the job of the FTC (then again, maybe not)
  • [00:26:42.15] Keeping up with changes in regulations
  • [00:28:00.00] The responsibility of companies to make sure their representatives such as affiliates handle things properly
  • [00:28:20.29] Guidelines and laws mean nothing without enforcement
  • And so much more. . .


Items mentioned in this episode

Amazon Is Data Mining Reviewers’ Personal Relationships

Is a website responsible for user comments? A European court says yes

Blog Comments, Trolls and Pizza Delivery Guys

FTC updates social media disclosure guidelines & we’re all in trouble

FTC Puts Social Media Marketers On Notice With Updated Disclosure Guidelines

Porter Airlines fined $150,000 for violating CRTC’s anti-spam rules

Video provided by: AtomicSpark
Audio recorded by: Wayne Cochrane Sound

  • Hello, I agree about review/rating systems and how they can be gamed, and yes, it would be nice to have relationships disclosed.

    I’m not sure, though, that it should outright exclude reviews, even if there is a relationship. For example, I also work part-time in Christian apologetics, which is a very small community. If I (as an expert on the subject), review the work of another Christian apologist, I almost certainly know the author, at least via social media. Yet, I’m more qualified to give that review than 99.9% of potential readers out there. Disclosure, yes… being barred, no.

    Also, consider that people who might hate the author probably don’t get barred. Amazon (and other systems) don’t seem to have a very good process in place to get rid of bogus reviews where it’s quite clear the person hasn’t even read the book and is just leaving bad reviews because they don’t like the author (or the author’s position on a subject).

    If they can’t find a higher quality way to moderate reviews, I don’t think they should be using some half-baked automated ‘formula’ to do it either.

  • Thanks for the Reputation Refinery shoutout guys!