A link to an article in The Guardian appears at the end of this post.
Although the practice described in The Guardian article seems most common among online users with significant followings (which I don’t have), I would like to clarify the policy for hcwrites.com:
All links on this blogsite are sourced “organically,” and they are shared because they have potential for entertaining or informing visitors. The same policy applies to my personal and public social media accounts. However, I’ll admit I don’t know whether any of the posts I’ve shared were brought to my attention through another site’s paid promotion.
In a few cases, I have used social media to notify people that their material has been shared on this site. That is done as a courtesy, and no payments are solicited or accepted.
hcwrites.com is not monetized, so no advertisements should appear on any of the blogsite’s pages.
Occasionally, I pay Facebook or Twitter to promote a blog post. Those promotions do not generate income.
I find the report in The Guardian especially disturbing because it reminds me of the Payola scandal during the 1950s, which involved fees being paid quietly to give more radio airplay to particular music recordings.
Ethical concerns aside, there’s a distinction between Payola and web link promotions which are paid quietly. Payola was as serious as it was because it involved broadcast radio stations. There are a limited number of spaces on the “terrestrial” radio dial, and when record companies bribed announcers to play some music at the expense of other recordings, there was no question the practice could manipulate the entire music market. The internet is a bit more flexible — at least as long as net neutrality exists. Whoa! I won’t go there.
If you have any questions about my own online practices, please leave a message in the comments section.