AirPods
Wall Boat / Flickr
A picture of Apple AirPods. Reviewers are using affiliate codes for product like AirPods and earn commissions, potentially compromising their review.

Usage of affiliate codes is commonplace in today’s era of technology. Instagram influencers and YouTubers use them with acquired sponsorships. In other words, everyone is trying to sell you something in one way or another.

Usage of affiliate codes is commonplace in today’s era of technology. Instagram influencers and YouTubers use them with acquired sponsorships. In other words, everyone is trying to sell you something in one way or another.

An affiliate code is a link or specialized term that people use in partnership with a company. A person may reach out to or be contacted by a company and agree to promote a certain product in exchange for whatever amount of assets. The third party will often be given a specific link to use when they promote the product. This link will most often contain the phrases “tag=” or “linkCode” including the name of the person who is selling the product. When people buy under the link provided, the third party earns a certain percentage of commission. It is a medium for the people involved to earn money.

Arpi Park, a YouTuber and Stanford University student, pointed out in a video that news sources such as TIME and WIRED were using similar affiliate links in their reviews on the new AirPods Pro. The links they provide take you to Amazon’s web page for the AirPods. Both links provided are different and contain the coding terms “linkCode” and “tag=w” or “tag=time.”

This means that they are earning a percentage from Amazon and Apple whenever someone buys the AirPods under that specific link. Herein lies the problem. These two publications know they would include a link before the article was published, perhaps even before it was written. If they knew that they were going to earn money from that link, then there is suddenly an enticing argument to write a captivating, good review in order to get people to buy it when finished reading.

WIRED’s editorial policy on their usage of affiliate links states “…They offer another means of paying for the high-quality journalism you expect from WIRED.” The policy also states how the usage does not interfere with the integrity of the reviews they publish and shows you how to remove the part of the link that directs the funds acquired from it.

Though this is a common practice in reviews of certain products, it still leads us to question the review and whether or not it is truthful. TIME and WIRED may not be actively trying to sell you AirPods, but there is definitely monetary encouragement to produce a good review or shine a better light onto the AirPods for both of these companies.

An article by ThatNickJones on Ethics and Diversity in Media states, “So, while widely debated, journalists and publications tend to agree that as long as the use of affiliate marketing is disclosed to the reader, it is ethical.”

Now, of course journalists and publications would agree on that because they earn money from it. They have an incentive for it. But it must be noted that it can kill trust between the media and the consumer of media. Ethical journalism gets thrown out of the window when there is monetary bias involved.

So the next time you find yourself searching for a review on the newest iPhone 20X Pro with five camera lenses, be critical of where you get it from and be wary of who you listen to. They might be trying to sell you.

Also does Jeff Bezos really need more of your money?

An affiliate code is a link or specialized term that people use in partnership with a company. A person may reach out to or be contacted by a company and agree to promote a certain product in exchange for whatever amount of assets. The third party will often be given a specific link to use when they promote the product. This link will most often contain the phrases “tag=” or “linkcode” including the name of the person who is selling the product. When people buy under the link provided, the third party earns a certain percentage of commission. It is a medium for the people involved to earn money.

Arpi Park, a YouTuber and Stanford University student, pointed out in a video that news sources such as TIME and WIRED were using similar affiliate links in their reviews on the new AirPods Pro. The links they provide take you to Amazon’s web page for the AirPods. Both links provided are different and contain the coding terms “linkCode” and “tag=w” or “tag=time.”

This means that they are earning a percentage from Amazon and Apple whenever someone buys the AirPods under that specific link. Herein lies the problem. These two publications have known that they would include a link before the article was published, perhaps even before it was written. If they knew that they were going to earn money from that link, then there is suddenly an enticing argument to write a captivating, good review in order to get people to buy it when finished reading.

WIRED’s editorial policy on their usage of affiliate links states “[…] They offer another means of paying for the high-quality journalism you expect from WIRED.” The policy also states how the usage does not interfere with the integrity of the reviews they publish and shows you how to remove the part of the link that directs the funds acquired from it.

Though this is a common practice in reviews of certain products, it still leads us to question the review and whether or not it is truthful. TIME and WIRED may not be actively trying to sell you AirPods, but there is definitely monetary encouragement to produce a good review or shine a better light onto the AirPods for both of these companies.

An article by ThatNickJones on Ethics and Diversity in Media states, “So, while widely debated, journalists and publications tend to agree that as long as the use of affiliate marketing is disclosed to the reader, it is ethical.”

Now, of course journalists and publications would agree on that because they earn money from it. They have an incentive for it. But it must be noted that it can kill trust between the media and the consumer of media. Ethical journalism gets thrown out of the window when there is monetary bias involved.

So the next time you find yourself searching for a review on the newest iPhone 20X Pro with five camera lenses, be critical of where you get it from and be wary of who you listen to. They might be trying to sell you.

Also does Jeff Bezos really need more of your money?

Sarah Strang can be reached at sstrang@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @sarahstrang100.