Not only has Google punished all those people judasing their opinion on the web for some silver, but now the EU is saying that companies who pay people to write fake reviews of products will get fined and be liable for criminal prosecution. Well according to the Register anyway.
and the upshot is that companies (including sole traders) will no longer be able to pay individual bloggers or professional agencies to post false or misleading blogs or reviews online. Nor will they be able to do it themselves.
A little step in the right direction for the malevolent marketers and their deceptive disciples who would rather make a quick buck then have a moral backbone or an ounce of creativity. In actual fact this is law in many EU countries already, this is what the EU wants:
Certain commercial practices across Europe are banned outright under the Directive. To ensure that traders, marketing professionals and customers are clear about what is prohibited, a Black List of unfair practices has been drawn up. Which types of commercial practices does it cover? The commercial practices on the Black List are unfair in all circumstances and no case-by-case assessment against other provisions of the Directive is required. The list may only be modified at EU level, by revision of the Directive with the involvement of the European Parliament and the Council (representatives from Member States).
And the one for this blog article:
Professional trader disguised as consumer â€œFalsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.â€
Is paying someone to blog about your product covered under this?
Is it Law in Ireland? Under the Consumer Protection Act 2007, in section 55 it outright bans:
(x) making a representation or creating an impression that the traderâ€”
(i) is not acting for purposes related to the traderâ€™s trade, business or profession, when the trader is so acting,
(ii) is acting as a consumer, when the trader is not;
And the fines:
56.â€”A trader who contravenes section 55(1) or (3) commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment or on summary conviction, as the case may be, to the fines and penalties provided in Chapter 4 of Part 5.
But would the below section mean that once someone delcares Pay Per Post, they’re ok?
(q) using editorial content in the media to promote a product (if a trader has paid for that promotion) if it is not made clear that the promotion is a paid promotion, whether in the content itself or in any oral, written, visual or descriptive representation in the promotion;
I’m not sure myself but I’m not a legal scholar so I’ll leave it up to one to clarify it when they read this. However part x is quite clear and useful. You can now make a complaint to the national consumer agency if a marketing or PR company leaves fake comments as “consumers” and have them done for breaking the law. Not that the NCA will give a damn or make an effort to do anything about this. I should think Boards.ie can make massive use of this given how so many marketing companies and all sorts of companies come on to the site, register as new users and talk up new products pretending not to be linked to them. I remember a certain Satellite Internet company used to do that on the IrelandOffline forum on boards, come on talking up their product and denying they were from the company.
Update: DaithÃ was 9 months ahead of me!