Legislation necessary to protect blog sphere
The blog sphere is a lawless jungle where bloggers, advertisers and portals become predators of consumers. The Fair Trade Commission fined only the paid bloggers for their deceptive marketing. Korea needs legislation to crack down on the other two predatory groups — portals and advertisers.
The FTC fined Monday four sponsored bloggers for monetizing their sites by arranging group purchases of dish washers, and food ingredients. The two paid-bloggers reportedly raked in up to $8 million in commissions from companies. Korea has yet to go a long way before enforcing rules against the highly trafficked, money-chasing blogs.
There are 53 million registered blogs and Internet cafes at the nation's two leading portal sites Naver and Daum. It means every Korean, young and old, has at least one registered site. The blog sphere is not always a place for communication and friendship.
A popular cuisine blogger deceived as many as 3,000 consumers into buying defective dish washers purportedly capable of removing pesticides from fruit and vegetables. She pocketed the compensation for her deceitful paid reviews from advertisers. The buyers of the dish washers complained of tonsillitis and coughing. The regulator announced that the machine is hazardous.
Paid bloggers are likely to thrive as the current rule demands a maximum penalty of $1,000.
Advertisers mobilized the highly trafficked bloggers to generate blogger buzz for their products.
They pay bloggers in return for writing posts about their goods and services and linking the websites of advertisers. The bloggers collected fees in accordance with the number of clicks or products sold. No law exists to punish the advertisers.
The nation’s first portal Naver is a big fish in a small pond. It has yet to introduce a Google-like policy of alerting consumers against paid bloggers.
Google bans bloggers from linking an advertiser’s website as it is a form of paid text links. Paid bloggers must be ready for seeing a significant reduction in its search-engine link. They have their sites removed from Google search results entirely.
Paid bloggers must abide by Google's rules. Namely they must fully disclose their sponsored reviews as paid posts. They must use the ``NoFollow’’ tag within the HTML code of their links. Google runs SocialSpark for enabling paid bloggers to display sponsored reviews. The rule alerts consumers against paid, untrustworthy bloggers. Naver knows this, but it allegedly receives payment from what it calls Power Bloggers or paid bloggers in return for posting them at popular places.
Cracking down on the profiteering bloggers is quite elusive. Their marketing tricks are sophisticated enough to deceive consumers.
Legislation is necessary to penalize those predatory advertisers, portals and sponsored bloggers. The tax office should blacklist the paid bloggers. The sponsored bloggers must have their illegal earnings confiscated. This becomes all the more necessary as 10 percent of commercial transactions take place online. The paid bloggers also damage the reputations of honest bloggers.