Operation UV is a project whose goal is to drain Gawker of its resources as retaliation for extreme yellow journalism, clickbait, and defamation of GamerGate. It consists of two phases: Gamma, where participants file FTC complaints about Gawker's advertising practices, and Alpha, where participants email advertisers.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requires "clear and conspicuous" disclosure when a blog or other website displays an advertisement that might not be clearly distinguishable from the normal website content. This includes paid affiliate links; second-party websites receive a small percentage from purchases that originates from these same sites. Judging by certain things seen on their site, Gawker Media may be aware that they’ve been playing fast-and-loose with FTC disclosure rules.
In short, Gawker Media embeds their Amazon Affiliate information into seemingly all Amazon.com links found on their family of websites. Gawker Media presumably receives financial compensation for these affiliate links. Per the FTC, this financial arrangement must be made explicitly clear to the consumer before they click on that link. This is about Gawker Media and their repeated pattern of either skirting or even outright ignoring the Federal Trade Commission’s requirement that for-profit network affiliate links must be disclosed in a "clear and conspicuous" manner to website visitors.
When contacting the FTC, it will be useful to note the scope of Gawker Media's use of Amazon Affiliate links. It would appear that nearly every single Amazon.com link found on Gawker Media's websites in the past several years is embedded with Gawker Media's Amazon.com Affiliate information. This includes not only the expected native advertisement posts, but reviews, news articles, brief blog posts, Tweets and even links in the comments sections. The FTC is clear about the necessity of explicit disclosure of all network affiliate links, so the breadth of Gawker Media's negligence in this area is quite large and arguably warrants action by the FTC.
The explanation for the numerous undisclosed links might be as follows: all of Gawker Media's websites (Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, i09, etc ...) are managed by Gawker Media's proprietary blogging platform Kinja. After Kinja's launch, Gawker Media's owner Nick Denton discovered that Kinja could be used to add Amazon Affiliate links into all of Gawker Media's sites and blogs automatically. He discusses this discovery and the subsequent financial benefits this policy has earned Gawker Media in the following Digiday article dated October 20, 2014:
Therefore, if the Digiday article is correct, Amazon Affiliate links are inserted automatically into perhaps all Amazon.com links on Gawker Media's websites. A careful examination of Gawker Media's websites shows that Kinja does not appear to distinguish between Amazon.com links in native advertisement posts and other Amazon.com posts such as reviews, blog postings, Tweets and links found in reader comments. These seemingly indiscriminate insertions of for-profit affiliate links do not seem to take into account the FTC requirement for "clear and conspicuous" disclosure in such matters.
To participate, use the FTC's online complaint form to report Gawker's advertising practices. Use the gallery below to ensure you select the proper options. The final page will ask you for your contact information. Fill it out accurately. They may contact you be able to converse with them, if they email you we can help you with suggestions if you post it here. Then you have the 3500 characters to enter your complaint. Use the resources section to find specific examples.
|Name||Address||Email Address||Phone Number|
|Gawker Media|| 210 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
Here are examples of questionable behavior on the part of Gawker Media in terms of FTC disclosure rules. None of these posts disclose or even provide a hint to the consumer that they are about to click on a for-profit affiliate link. To be clear: there is no disclosure whatsoever.
|Gizmodo||27 Oct, 2014||Fire TV Stick vs Chromecast vs Roku||"$30 voice remote" and "$40 game controller"|
|Gizmodo||7 Oct, 2014||Lego Creator Aviation Adventure||"Aviation Adventure (31011)"|
|Gizmodo||20 Oct, 2014||Kindle Voyage Review||"$100 Paperwhite"|
|Kotaku||10 Oct, 2014||Cost of Nintendo's Amiibo Figurines||"Amazon"|
|Gizmodo||24 Oct, 2014||My First Kindle||"Kindle"|
|Gizmodo||10 Oct, 2014||Lego Exo-Suit back in stock on Amazon||"Amazon"|
|Lifehacker||18 Oct, 2014||How to Use Amazon Glacier||"Amazon Glacier"|
|Gizmodo||6 Nov, 2014||Amazon's Echo Might Be Its Most Import Product In Years||"$100"|
|Gizmodo||27 Oct, 2014||Amazon's New Chromecast Competitor Is Just $20 Until Wednesday||"Amazon just announced"|
|Gizmodo||28 Aug, 2014||Untitled blog post||"Amazon Instant Video" and "Amazon"|
|Gizmodo||6 Aug, 2014||NYC, Philly, DC and More Can Get Same-Day Amazon Deilvery Now||"Amazon"|
|Gizmodo||8 Jul, 2014||Kindle Unlimited Is Here : Read As Much As You Like For $10 a Month||"Kindle Unlimited subscription service"|
|Gizmodo||23 Jun, 2014||Yes! You Can Buy a Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite||"the waterproof cases"|
|Lifehacker||4 Nov, 2014||Amazon Gives Unlimited Photo Storarge to Prime Customers||"Amazon Prime Photos"|
|Lifehacker||24 Sep, 2014||Most Popular Place to Buy Used Games and Consoles:Amazon||"Amazon"|
|Lifehacker||26 Aug, 2014||Amazon's Used Textbooks Are Consistently Cheaper Than Other Retailers||"which is free for student for the first six months"|
|Jezebel||20 Dec, 2013||There's More Where This Disgusting, Hilarious Kleenex Review Came From||"this Amazon review"|
|Gawker||7 Nov, 2014||The Very Best TV Series to Stream This Weekend||"Broad City (Amazon Prime)"|
|Gizmodo||12 Dec, 2012||Every Kindle Fire Is on Sale Today – If You're a Mom||"a Kindle Fire," "7-inch Kindle Fire HD," "8.9-inch big brother," and "free to join"|
|Gizmodo||19 May, 2014||How to Find the Perfect LED Flashlight||"ITP A3 EOS Rev 2," "generic, Chinese-made thing," and "Genix Headlamp Band"|
|Lifehacker||29 Mar, 2013||Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This Weekend||"a soldering kit" and "$20 board"|
- Important Update: The FTC Heard Our Complaints. They Are Going to Issue Revised Disclosure Guidelines for Affiliate Links and You Tubers. We've Been Instrumental in Making Real, Lasting Positive Changes to Online Journalism
- Important FTC Update #2: Yes, the FTC is Going to Address the Specific Complaints of Operation UV. And Sorry, Gamasutra, You Did NOT Write About Them.
- Important FTC Update #3: Yes, We Hit Pay Dirt. Gawker Media's Kotaku is Now Retroactively Adding FTC Affiliate Disclosure Notices To Their "Best Of" Lists. Best Day Ever on the Internet?
- Important FTC Update #4: FTC Confirms that, Yes, #OperationUV is Responsible for the New Guidance on Hidden Affiliate Links. Be Proud GamerGate.
- update 5?
- archive of update 5?
- Important FTC Update #6: My FOIA Request to the FTC Regarding Gawker Media was Turned Down Because "it could reasonably be expected to interfere with the conduct of the Commission's law enforcement activities."