I hate HuffPo with the blazing heat of a million white-hot suns. Well, maybe not that much, but I really do despise its predictable Authoritarian Leftism, ascribable to a new editor and a new editorial position. It’s become the left-wing Breitbart, but in one respect perhaps even worse: it has “articles” that are really ads, for, while purporting to tell you what to eat, what to buy, and what to visit, HuffPo is getting a cut from whatever recommendations they give that you spend money on. And you don’t know it if you don’t read the fine print.
For example, here’s an article that I, as a foodie, would have clicked on (click on all article screenshots to go to article):
One of those “best food cities” is Venice, and, like the rest of them, they recommend food tours, as in the following bit.
In Venice, there’s something tasty for everyone. Wine lovers might want to chow down on the spectacular wine and unique seafood dishes at al Covo, while pasta enthusiasts might prefer tucking into a dish of hearty bolognese at Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino. TripAdvisor’s most-booked food tour in the city is the Venice food tour: cicchetti and wine.
But if you click on the food tours, you go to one that TripAdvisor recommends. Well, okay, they’re using TripAdvisor as a source. But HuffPo also gets a cut if you book using the link, for this appears—at the very bottom of the page.
Here’s the direct link to the Venice food tour via Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g187870-d11453217-Venice_Food_Tour_Cicchetti_and_Wine-Venice_Veneto.html
And the link via HuffPo, clearly identifying their cut, presumably in bold: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g187870-d11453217-Venice_Food_Tour_Cicchetti_and_Wine-Venice_Veneto.html&cjp=5431261&cja=10834516&cjs=38395X1559466X38b37c6c52b4c4044853d627335a3e9f . The prices don’t differ; HuffPo is just taking a cut.
Why don’t they just label the article “ad” at the top? It’s deceptive.
Likewise, here’s a travel ad, with a weak indication at the top that, well, there may be some money given to HuffPo by booking.com:
If London’s a bit too far away for you to travel, venture to the city of Chicago for an all-out celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Irish taverns are bustling, joyful people are singing and dancing in the street, and even the Chicago River sparkles a brilliant shade of emerald green. Families will love the vibrant and bustling Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade, full of colorful floats, marching bands and Irish dancers.
Where to Stay: Staypineapple at The Alise Chicago
The exquisite Staypineapple at The Alise Chicago was designed by renowned architect Daniel Burnham, with beautiful mosaic floors and marble ceilings oozing luxury, class and style. Select suites offer stunning views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, and the hotel is ideally located for shopping on the famous Michigan Avenue. Guests can enjoy an onsite fitness center, yoga and a bicycle rental service to explore the beauty of Chicago. After a fun-packed day of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, guests will love the adventurous and contemporary cuisine at the The Alise Chicago, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serving a selection of premium cocktails.
HuffPost Brand Forum is a paid program that allows companies to connect directly in their own words with HuffPost readers. For more information on Brand Forum, please contact BrandForum@huffpost.com.
In this case, the link doesn’t give HuffPo a cut; Booking.com just pays them to recommend hotels where Booking.com gets a cut.
Here’s an item that you might want to buy; you don’t know HuffPo gets a cut until the bottom of the page:
Number 6 of the recommendations is the Ted Baker London Tailor Wool Duffel Bag, with this description and link:
This vintage-inspired Ted Baker bag is, uniquely, made of textured wool. It’s [SIC!!!] faux leather trim adds a touch that gives it the timeless look of another decade.
The link is (my emphasis): https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/ted-baker-london-tailor-wool-duffel-bag/4725805?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=GREY\&cm_mmc=Linkshare-_-partner-_-10-_-1&siteId=tv2R4u9rImY-XGt3DO8GDElvQjUZR_l3oQ, which clearly tells nordstrom to give HuffPo some of the money. And at the bottom of the page you see this:
How can such an evaluation be “objective”? Clearly they’ll choose based on the willingness of the store to refund some of the dosh to HuffPo.
Finally, there’s this from the “wellness” section. (Whose “wellness” is being promoted?)
And number 1 in water bottles with filters:
For under $15, the filter inside this BPA-free bottle filters as you drink to easily rehydrate at the office, a sporting event or on a day trip.
Amazon Reviews: 1,900
Average Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
“These have changed my life. I can go anywhere and all I need is a tap and I’ve got tasty (non-gross chlorinated tasting) water. I have two and might get a third.” – Amazon Reviewer
If you click on the link above, the URL is https://www.amazon.com/Brita-Ounce-Sided-Bottle-Filter/dp/B00AB8NOPY/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?amp=&ie=UTF8&keywords=water+bottles+with+filters&psc=1&qid=1523907905&sr=8-1-spons&tag=thehuffingtop-20
And, sure enough:
I wouldn’t trust HuffPo’s articles on “the best stuff/food/places” if there’s any kind of indication that the site gets a remuneration from its recommendations. If you want Amazon recommendations, just put in a product like “water bottles” at the Amazon site and click on “highest rated” on the right. That way you can see the same evaluations without HuffPo getting your dosh. It’s also duplicitous to put the “we might get a cut of the money” notice at the bottom of the page, as you may click on—and order—a product before you see it.
I’m not sure Breitbart does anything like this, and it’s sneaky. It’s sneaky if anyone does it, but particularly sneaky, to my mind, when a left-wing site does it. You may say, “Well, everyone does it,” but to me that’s no excuse for duplicity. After all, at the top of New York Times pages that may be mistaken for news but are ads, they clearly say “ADVERTISEMENT.”
My one consolation is that traffic at HuffPo continues to drop as its contents become thinner and more predictable. I used to go there to look at food and travel posts, but now these are rarely renewed, and when they are they are often “kickback posts.”