Tag Archives: advertising

Hold Websites Responsible For False Advertising And Fake News

I had noticed last week that several supposedly respectable websites I check on had a news link that claimed that Michael Douglas had died. It was so pervasive I googled the news. Nope. Completely false. Total clickbait and a lie. Still, those fake headlines stayed up for days.

On The Daily Beast right now, looking exactly like one of the left-leaning news aggregator’s features, is a story headlined “Rush  in Total Ruins.” Then we have the revelation that Facebook profited from accepting links to false stories, paid for by Russian organizations seeking to undermine public faith and trust in democratic institutions. Facebook also has delivered to my page death hoaxes involving Clint Eastwood, Tiger Woods, Diana Ross, Raquel Welch, and Brad Pitt among others. Many of these are phishing schemes.

Websites that claim to be trustworthy and credible cannot agree, for whatever price, to place lies under their banners. They have a duty of due diligence. If they breach it, they should be liable. Even if the law can’t punish them based on  content, it should be able to punish such sites for aiding and abetting fraud for profit. How hard would it have been to check whether Michael Douglas was alive or not? How much time would it take to have an intern check to see whether Rush Limbaugh’s career is endangered? Newspapers have always excised discretion regarding ads, accepting their responsibility to keep their readers from being scammed. From what I am seeing now, websites accept no similar responsibility.

There have to be consequences. Continue reading

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From The “Trump-Hate Disabling News Media Ethics Alarms” Files: The Washington Post “Kids Chorus”

For those inexplicably loyal fans of the news media who said to themselves, “Well, CNN is an exception. The other respected news organizations will never let the President push them to completely alienate the public’s trust,” here is the hard, cruel truth: you are dead wrong. Open your eyes.

Witness the Washington Post, which somehow thought that it would enhance its reputation as a fair, independent, responsible and objective news source by recruiting a group of children to mock President Trump by singing his tweets. This was a Washington Post promotion, now. The Post believes that its readers want to get their news from a newspaper that gratuitously ridicules the President of the United States.  Maybe they are right. Such readers, however, are not looking for facts, or objective analysis. Those readers are looking to feed their confirmation bias.

At “The Hill,” reporter Jonathan Easley tweeted: “WaPo getting kids to mockingly sing Trump’s tweets seems needlessly antagonistic and a dumb move right now.” 

Gee, ya think?

I’m trying to imagine the long list of broken ethics alarms that had to malfunction for the Post to let this get all the way through conception, to production, to publication. Nobody in the chain of command said, “Yeah, that’s hilarious, but let’s leave this kind of thing to Jimmy Kimmel, okay? We’re a newspaper.” Nobody. Nobody thought that this would simply confirm what media critics have been saying about toxic anti-Trump bias. Nobody thought about how a graphic demonstration of this mindset at the paper would undercut any claim that the Post is capable of fair reporting on an elected leader it would show such disrespect to just to make a promotional pitch. Nobody. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, Workplace

Make America’s Children Props And Billboards Again! Or Rather, Let’s Not…

trump rally Westfield

I hate this.

Using children as props for adults to make their own political or commercial statements is unfair, demeaning and an abuse of power. Oh, maybe putting kids in T-shirts with messages they neither understand nor have consented to convey is not as bad as this exploitation of children for publicity value, perhaps, or this exploitation of kids by their parents, a website and a shameless comedian.  And I know that politicians using his own children as their clueless and unconsenting mouthpieces has a long and shameful history, with such landmarks as President Jimmy Carter trying to use his young daughter Amy as the agent of his own position during a Presidential debate with Ronald Reagan, to Ted Cruz’s employment of his daughters in a campaign video that inspired Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes to portray the little Cruz girls as monkeys.

Nevertheless, I do hate this stuff, and I’m calling for a cultural consensus that using children as billboards, mouthpeices or props for advocacy purposes, no matter what the cause or context, is wrong. I would like to see politicians, advocates, organizations and movements that use children in this manner pay a steep price in lost contributions and support, until the message is learned that the tactic will not be tolerated. I would like to see any parents who volunteer their kids for this demeaning duty to be properly and decisively shamed.

The photo above is an easy place to start; after all, this was at a Donald Trump appearance in Westfield, Indiana,  and a substantial percentage of the public hates Trump already.

It’s not like the kids are wearing shirts spelling out “GIVE PEACE A CHANCE,” though that would be equally unethical.

_________________

Pointer: Prof. Mike McGregor

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Ethics Dunce and All-Time Most Unethical Group With “Ethics” In Its Name: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

I'm SO glad my boyfriend joined PETA!

The People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals seems to be unable to grasp the simple concept that if you show yourself to be completely insensitive to matters of right and wrong involving human beings, nobody in their right mind is going care what you think constitutes the ethical treatment of animals. The latest in a long trail of proof: before the disturbing controversy over the pro-Chris Brown tweets had cooled and in the wake of the death Whitney Houston, a former of domestic abuse victim. PETA thought it was the perfect time to release a new ad celebrating the desirability of being able to harm women in the bedroom.

The 30 second spot shows a young woman without pants and wearing a neck brace as she painfully walks to her apartment. “This is Jessica,” narrator says. “She suffers from ‘BWVAKTBOOM,’ ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,’ a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star.” Jessica reaches the apartment and smilingly get ready for another round of presumably rough sex.

There are many terms that accurately describe men who are so uninterested in the women they have intimate relations with that they cause them pain and take pride in it. Rapists. Abusers. Max Cady. Sadists. Misogynists. Ass-holes.

“Vegans” is not one of them.

“PETA members,” perhaps.

 

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Now Here’s A Terrible Idea: Mandated Disclosures for Photoshopped Images of Celebrities!

And if you look real closely at the lower left corner, you'll read, "The model for Venus was a short, middle-aged bald man named Gino. His appearance was altered by the painter in the creation of this painting."

Here is another candidate for enshrinement in the Pantheon of Well- Intentioned But Terrible Ideas.

In an article published Monday in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” Dartmouth researchers Hany Farid, a professor of computer science, and Eric Kee, a doctoral student, propose a rating system of publicly displayed photographs of models, actors and celebrities to let viewers know exactly how and how much an image has been altered by photoshopping, airbrushing or other means.

“Impossibly thin, tall, and wrinkle- and blemish-free models are routinely splashed onto billboards, advertisements and magazine covers,” the two write. “The ubiquity of these unrealistic and highly idealized images has been linked to eating disorders and body-image dissatisfaction in men, women, and children.” In the interest of limiting the damage caused by unrealistic images of human beauty, the researchers argue that graphic images should include labels that disclose  “geometric adjustments” such as slimming legs, hips and arms, as well as adjusting facial symmetry—reducing a nose in size, or slightly enlarging eyes.  Users of such photos should also flag photometric adjustments that change the appearance of skin tone, blemishes and texture, such as wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes or cellulite, say the researchers.

Please, for the love of God, nobody introduce these guys to Sarah Deming and her lawyer, who are suing the distributers of the film “Drive” because the trailer was more exciting than the movie. And let us all remember this proposal when we are tempted to pooh-pooh accusations that the government is regulating creativity, commerce, art and enterprise right out of existence, and with them, individual liberty as well.The tea parties should use Farid and Kee’s article for recruitment. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Innovative Legal Marketing

Would "Seinfeld's" Jackie Chiles be a worse spokeperson for lawyers than Arnie Becker? Hmmmm...

L.A. Law’ Actor Corbin Bernsen, whom we originally got to know as priapic divorce attorney Arnie Becker on the old TV lawyer series  “L.A. Law,” was recruited in 2009, fifteen years after “L.A. Law” went to re-run heaven, to serve as the paid spokesperson for Innovative Legal Marketing, a Virginia-based company providing marketing services for lawyers and law firms. Now Bernsen has filed a lawsuit claiming he’s owed more than $668,000 after the company allegedly breached its contract and dropped him.

I have no idea whether Bernsen or the marketing firm has the law on its side in the suit, but I do know this: for a legal services marketing firm to recruit the actor who played Arnie Becker to promote legal services is an implicit insult to the legal profession and the intelligence of the public. Continue reading

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The Deceitful, Illogical, Unethical Disclaimer

Don't be fooled by Voldemort's disclaimer!

I once worked for a company that was specifically targeted by an industry group for coordinated attacks and anti-competitive tactics. We obtained a copy of the agenda for the planning meeting for this onslaught, and the bullet points looked like part of a hypothetical in an anti-trust class law school exam. This was the most blatant collusion in restraint of trade imaginable. But the  lawyers for the group apparently thought all could be made benign and legal by a disclaimer on every agenda copy that  said, in effect, “Don’t pay any attention to what this agenda says—trust us, it’s all fair and legal.” The disclaimer stated that the organization fully supported and followed all provisions of U.S. anti-trust statutes, and would never, ever do anything to violate them. This is roughly the equivalent of a mugger telling his victim that he is non-violent while he’s punching him in the face.

I am reminded of that agenda when I see commercials for new drugs, which show healthy, happy, beautiful models frolicking with their families or lovers in idyllic settings while the announcer, usually at breakneck speed, warns that the drug may cause violent flatulence, boils, locusts, insanity, cannibalism and excruciating death. I was reminded of the agenda again when I learned of the latest gambit by PublishAmerica, which earlier this year got in trouble with “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling by soliciting money from authors by promising to bring their works to her attention: Continue reading

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