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Will FTC Disclosure Rules Cut Down on Bogus Review Sites?

Apple Bans Developer for Bogus Reviews on iTunes

Ftc 
Normally I just write about music and guitars on this site, but Doug Marks, the guy behind the  Metal Method DVD Course, let me know about a pretty serious issue: the proliferation of  bogus review sites and misleading Google ads.  For most people, guitar lessons are a hobby, but for Doug it's how he makes a living.  So he has a vested interest in getting this problem fixed.

I blogged about it on InfoWorld:

 These sites purport to provide objective evaluation of consumer products, but they are simply paid advertisements.  The sites are typically either selling the products or receiving a kick-back or commission for referrals.  If you dig into these sites its not uncommon to see half a dozen similar sites with the same format and content, but slightly varied graphics.  I have no idea whether these sites make much money, but the fact that there are so many, is a strong indicator.  Even Google is benefiting from the ad words these sites are running.

Doug has exposed some of the dubious practices among his competitors and has raised the issue to Google. But so far, no response.  And its not just scams about guitar and piano lessons.  There are fake review sites on language instruction, vitamin supplements, exercise equipment and even software packages.  I don't know if the competing guitar instruction sites are good or not, but it makes me suspicious when someone goes to the trouble of creating these kind of misleading ads.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the FTC's is requiring bloggers to disclose their financial relationships effective December 1.  And hopefully it will get tougher for these scam sites to operate.  

Apple Removes Developer from iTunes

Interesting note that today, Apple uncovered a developer who was posting bogus reviews for their applications on iTunes.  Apple wasted no time in removing all of the developers applications and their reviews for violating Apple's iTunes policies.  Looks like at Apple takes this a lot more seriously than Google does. 

Have you seen these bogus guitar lesson review sites?   If you've used any of these other products, let me know what you think of them.  In fairness, I should also say that I'm an affiliate with Metal Method.

 

  • Metal Method: Main site, Complete Basic Course,Speed Kills, Forum
  • GuitarVibe: Guitar Lesson Scams, Guitar Mastery, More Time for Guitar
  • Comments

    I haven't seen anything that I could say for sure was bogus, but there is an awful lot of suspicious sites out there!

    BTW what are you using to produce the avatars on your blog?

    John, just do a search for "guitar lesson reviews" and see for yourself. It's easy to find half a dozen review sites that all look the same and promote the same products they are reviewing.

    The bog is hosted on TypePad and they seem to assign random pictures to the comments, for reasons I can't fathom.

    --Zack

    I'm not sure if the new regulations will make any difference but it is a step in the right direction. As a guitar player with my own website I do have affiliate links, there is nothing wrong with making some extra money, however I do realize a lot of the reviews people are writing is done with out them even trying out the product. Hopefully most consumers that come across a site without much relavent content they will move on right away. There is a lot of good information to be found on the internet, people just have to use some common sense.
    Anyway, great blog, I enjoyed it.

    Ed at http://learnitguitar.com/

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