Sell Your Integrity for $0.65

Everyone has their price, but who knew it was so low? First, we see Burger King persuading people to trade 10 Facebook friends for a Whopper (suggested retal price: $3.69). Then some are suggesting that Twitter might create a business model offer companies a sort of pay-per-click (PPC) approach to friendship where they might pay $1 for each “friend” who follows a sponsored invitation.

But apparently Belkin may have read Ben Kunz’s “Modest Blogging Proposal” and not recognized it as satire. According to The Daily Background, a Belkin employee used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to pay people to write positive reviews of Belkin’s products–65 cents for each review. The scandal has received wide coverage through a post by John Biggs on CrunchGear.

I can’t say I’m shocked (shocked!) to find out that there’s payola going on here. And, by way of an “I told you so,” a big part of the problem is that reviews are anonymous, and anonymity doesn’t play well with information accountability.

But I am disappointed that people’s integrity is so cheap. Even Esau was able to swing a mess of pottage, which by my best guess would go for $5 in 2009 dollars.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

7 replies on “Sell Your Integrity for $0.65”

Well, there must be some human skill needed to write the reviews, or else they’d have automated it entirely. Or perhaps paid less than $0.65 to answer the CAPTCHAs needed to post the reviews.

Needless to say, $0.65 for a 5-star product review is a bargain for the manufacturer. It’s a lot more expensive to buy votes, and I suspect the reviews provide a much higher expected return.

That’s why I worry about this behavior being widespread, and why I’m happy to be part of the posse shaming it.


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