I might end up doing a show about this down the road, but as I was running around the internet this morning, something occurred to me. I came across some articles about the disclosure of affiliate links, and how we’re supposed to disclose everything now, everywhere we are. Post an affiliate link on your site? Disclose. Tweet an affiliate link on Twitter? Disclose. Facebook? Disclose. No matter what the context, we’re supposed to disclose.
Well, let me ask you two questions, and I’m genuinely curious what you think.
First, why is it that other forms of media are not subject to such stringent rules? Television and radio are not required to disclose every single relationship they have. Movies? Product placement is the norm. There’s never been a requirement that says “If you show a product in your movie, you must disclose that you were paid to put it there.”
Second, what about situations where there’s money on the line, but it’s not an affiliate relationship? Here’s an example. Chris Pearson created the Thesis framework for WordPress. (Wanna make a guess about whether or not that link was an affiliate link?) Chris is very active on Twitter. He promotes Thesis pretty regularly. He potentially benefits from every link back to Thesis because he’s its creator! So… should Chris be required to “disclose” that he potentially makes money when people click his links? Remember, affiliate links are not guaranteed compensation – only if someone makes a purchase does an affiliate get paid. Maybe someone clicks one of Chris’ links and buys Thesis, maybe not. I could be another example. I’m launching a podcast consulting gig. Do I need to disclose when I link to my pages that I’m going to make money if you hire me? Technically, according to the concepts and the spirit behind what we are required to do with affiliate links, Chris and I should both be disclosing on each and every link we put out there.
I’d like to know what you think about this.