Tumblr recently made a post on their official staff page on September 8th, 2016 where they announced that they updated their terms of service to accommodate a new feature that will be implemented into the basic Tumblr functionality over the next couple of weeks: affiliate links.
A lot of companies have been opting to use affiliate links instead of traditional ads due to their less obtrusive appearance and more user-friendly approach to making money without disrupting the online user experience. Tumblr is just one of many who have opted to add affiliate links to their service operations, following closely behind Reddit who announced some time ago that they, too, would be utilizing automated affiliate links in both the linked posts and user comment section.
Affiliate links aren’t bad so long as they’re disclosed, and in the case of Reddit there was no indication that they would be disclosing paid affiliate links.
In the case of Tumblr, they don’t mention anything about disclosing paid links either. In the current version of their terms of service, it reads…
“Tumblr may add its own affiliate code to links posted on Tumblr at its discretion, provided a user has not previously included their own affiliate code into the applicable link.“
Tumblr does have an option within the user settings to opt out of affiliate links being used or displayed through posts.
As they mention on the FAQ page, users will not receive any compensation or commission from the purchases made through affiliate links that Tumblr may automatically add to posts. One of the questions asks if those posting the content will get a cut of the revenue, to which they respond…
“No. But! VigLink lets you make affiliate links for your own use. You’ll need a separate VigLink account, but it’s stupid easy to get started. They even wrote these instructions for you.”
For as far as the FAQ is concerned, everything will operate and stay the same, only links will now contain affiliate tags so Tumblr gets a cut of the profit.
In regards to disclosures the only thing available is what’s mentioned in the terms of service regarding Tumblr’s use of APIs.
When users are usually targeted with ads, the FTC requires that disclosures be made indicating that the links or services are an advertisement to avoid deceptive practices. This became one of the FTC’s recent endeavors to highlight how the digital age affects disclosure after a campaign was put together by #GamerGate to really highlight the importance of ethics in media.
Tumblr makes no mention of whether they will disclosure affiliate links or if there are any steps or means in which to do so. Hopefully they implement a method – similar to the Gamer Network and VideoGamer.com – where users can easily be notified that some of the content they’re clicking on is being served to them as an affiliate link.
(Main image courtesy of Ashion)