Amazon to help you be a spammer while painting a bullseye for the FTC

One of the big topics today that I have picked up from my morning reading is the news that Amazon is going to help you become a Twitter spammer.

Yup now you will be able to populate your Twitter stream with links to items in the Amazon stores that you can sell as an affiliate and make money. Now to be sure there are probably a great number of people who will be totally ethical and above board when it comes to posting this type of stuff to their Twitter stream.

However I am willing to go out on a limb here and say that this kind of transparency will be extremely rare.

This idea is ripe for misuse and will do nothing more than provide a mechanism for affiliate marketers to start flooding Twitter with seemingly legitimate offers disguised as friendly recommendations. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the week that this takes off to the point that previous hijacking of accounts will start happening again with links to Amazon products being the end game for supplied links.

The other big problem, which services like Magpie and SponsoredTweets have addressed is the matter of disclosure – especially with the upcoming changes as proposed by the FTC. In what I have read so far nothing is mentioned about the requirement of some sort of disclosure being a requirement of posting Amazon affiliate links to Twitter. In fact by all appearances you are totally left to your own ethics as to how you write up the Twitter message in your affiliate link message.

As Sarah Parez quite rightly pointed out in her post about this on ReadWriteWeb this is becoming nothing more that Twitter product placement or as she puts it – a hidden advertisement

The problem with this sort of “hidden” advertising, though, is exactly that: it’s hidden. This is the internet’s version of “product placement” – subtle advertising in plain sight yet never clearly identified as such. Was your favorite TV star using a Macbook? Was he drinking a Coke? Already commonplace in Hollywood, these almost subliminal advertising messages permeate our consciousness every time we turn on the TV. Now that same sort of hidden ad will soon show up in the Twitter streams of your favorite tweeters.

Sorry but with no guidance regarding disclosure, or even making it a requirement, this new idea for Amazon is exactly the reason why the FTC is getting involved. So much for self-regulation.