Influence-peddling bloggers

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Influence-peddling bloggers

Blogging is the representative form of social media in the Internet age. Popular bloggers, often referred to as “power bloggers,” draw millions of devoted followers.

But some of them have recently come under fire for abusing their newfound power.

A popular blog covering home life and cooking tips on a local portal site created an uproar. The blogger, who draws 1.3 million followers, is suspected of pocketing 201 million won ($189,007) by abusing her fans’ loyalty.

Based on her confident reviews of products she uses in her kitchen, she sold the products through her blog in the form of a collective bargain, giving her fans a discount. But she was also tacitly advertising the products she was selling to her readers.

Popular bloggers such as her often demand sponsorship from companies or discounts for the products they sell on their sites.

Companies, too, benefited from the growth of social media. Information technology-related companies, in particular, would give out free trials in order to capitalize on the power of mouth-of-word marketing through social media.

Bloggers would seek rewards in payment or in sponsorship for their writings. Some companies would organize separate conferences or overseas trips for them.

Bloggers - having tasted the sweet rewards of their influence - have become greedy profit-seekers.

Portal sites like Naver and Daum have a responsibilty to keep cyberspace in order. They have been encouraging the growth of a habitat of power bloggers, selecting and touting 500 to 700 popular blog sites in different fields.

Internet users trusted the blogs, which were certified by big portal sites. The portal sites that have turned a blind eye to the irregularities and unethical practices of some of the bloggers should take firmer action.

If cyberspace loses self-control, authorities inevitably would have to get involved. If bloggers join hands with companies to sell products, consumers could be victimized.

The Fair Trade Commission should look into the consumer sales practices of online blog sites as well as community bulletins and determine if any of them are bending the law to make profit.

Tax authorities should also investigate whether bloggers have been paying their taxes dutifully in line with the revenue they earned through their sales activities.

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