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#1 pennypacker

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 12:16 AM

My post is in regards to a review I about Air that I found on another site. The link to it is https://thatoneprivacysite.net/2016/09/05/airvpn-review/

 

That said, does AirVPN pay others to do reviews for them? I



#2 zhang888

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 01:40 AM

That said, does AirVPN pay others to do reviews for them? I

 

Definitely not. Explain this statement.


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#3 pennypacker

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 04:23 AM

I was asking more so in regards to the review. If you read it, the reviewer pretty much states that Air pays people to write up reviews for the VPN. He also states that he has had issues in the past with his own material being jacked, and he brought it to airs attention but they did nothing. I'm new around here and new to Air. After reading that review, I thought I would make a post and ask. 



#4 cm0s

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:20 AM

fyi:
i think the 'review bandit' took one of my bananas


cheerz

#5 LZ1

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:33 AM

Hello!

 

Air definitely isn't the type to pay reviewers - if so, I have to wonder who they've been paying, because I don't see any reviews of them, much lol. Not compared to say, PIA. As for doing nothing, I think that's plausible, in the sense that I think Air would not do anything, if a given issue wasn't their problem - which it could sound like, based on what you said :). I think it's hard to say anything for sure, until we know the details. Thank you for bringing it to our attention, that was nice of you :).


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#6 Staff

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 10:12 AM

My post is in regards to a review I about Air that I found on another site. The link to it is https://thatoneprivacysite.net/2016/09/05/airvpn-review/

 

That said, does AirVPN pay others to do reviews for them? I

 

Hello!

 

No, we have never paid and we will never pay for a review. We receive an offer for paid reviews almost every week but we decline every time.

 

Note that the article you linked adds something more, i.e. it is even against our referral program which would aid misleading/hidden ads according to the author, and against us when we don't intervene to exercise pressure to prevent alleged copyright infringements on third party web sites that also use referral links.

 

We wish to add that the sentence "Do a search for “AirVPN review” and just try to find one that isn’t written by someone paid to do so." is misleading and potentially defamatory (although the article might be quite irrelevant, we anyway reserve the right to sue for libel/defamation if our lawyers will recommend to do so). If you use Google for example, you find a lot of reviews, on the top positions, which do not even have a referral link. And of course all of them have not been paid, once again we confirm that we have never paid for any review.

 

Kind regards



#7 ultrahumanite

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 12:41 AM

I had discussions if you can call them that with the author of the review in question. He believes that if you write a review and include an affiliate link in it the review automatically becomes dishonest. He also has unrealistic expectations when it comes to what he believes VPN services should do to police reviewers and reviews. His reviews are not bad at all and he does touch on some important issues but his obsession with affiliate marketing is weird especially since there are many more much more important issues to consider when choosing a VPN.



#8 zhang888

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 01:03 AM

Nothing wrong with people posting reviews and affiliate links, after all they expect to be paid for that review, in means of

attracting people to a particular service. All internet marketing and ads industry is based on that.

Many bloggers use affiliate programs to make money.

What is bad and should not be practised is paying certain appearing "unbiased" people to conduct a positive review.

Such people may include bloggers, popular social media accounts, and so on. Some VPN providers do that - and

we all know who they are.

 

Having said that, it should be the users responsibility to do the research before subscribing, whether it's a VPN service or a

weight loss link they got via a spam letter :)

 

The only way to stop such reviews will be completely shutting down the affiliate links, so in reality it's impossible.


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#9 ThatOnePrivacyGuy

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 02:29 AM

"That One Privacy Guy" and author of the review in question. 

 

I saw some traffic coming to my site from this thread, and I wanted to take a moment to clear up some confusion about this review.

 

A few words to set the stage (taken from my "guide to choosing a VPN") (and strictly my opinion)

 

A WORD ABOUT TRUST

No matter what reason you want a VPN, you want to know that the service you choose is trustworthy and is not compromising your data. Even if you’re only concerned with geo-unblocking or other non-privacy uses, keep reading. A preface regarding privacy and trust, from another thread I made a while back. This applies to every company, but I would suggest especially so for VPNs.

 

We live in a society where privacy is undervalued and under assault daily. Some people eventually notice this and discover that they do value their own. They set out on a pilgrimage of sorts to educate themselves and learn about tools to help them protect it (as I did when I started my project). Because we depend on each other for direction and others to write software and run services to help keep us secure – TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY – are paramount.

 

However, transparency comes before trust.

 

A WORD ABOUT VPN AFFILIATES

You may have started your search for a VPN by looking for “VPN Reviews” in your search engine of choice. if you had, you would have gotten page upon page of what seem to be harmless review sites, top 10 or blog style reviews of different VPN services. You may even be coming here for confirmation of what you were told on those sites. The sites making these recommendations are, in almost every case, paid by the services they review and recommend. They are beginning their business relationship with you, with what essentially amounts to a lie. The technical term for this kind of marketing is “native advertising” and it’s abuse is a huge problem in the VPN industry.

 

I purposefully made a point to capture this kind of data on my VPN Comparison Chart. There you can find information on services that have affiliate programs, the specific policies they have for them and whether or not the affiliates act ethically, essentially what the services tolerate from those representing them, when it comes to persuading YOU to buy into the information they put out.

 

Note that not all affiliates have to be bad actors and simply having an affiliate program is not necessarily grounds for mistrust of a VPN, but rather when those services allow their resellers to generate referrals by hook or by crook. If you see a service appear over and over again on the kinds of sites mentioned above, there is a good chance they are making money from, and are perfectly okay with these kinds of deceptive practices as a part of their business model. They often will claim that it’s just the affiliate doing this, and that they can’t control what others do. This is false. Affiliates, like anyone entering into a business relationship with someone, agree to certain terms put forth by the service hiring them. If a company doesn’t expect and enforce certain standards from their affiliates (not spamming, not breaking copyright, disclosing who they are, etc), they are approving these methods, and are not worthy of your trust. If they are willing to lie to you before you even buy into their service, the stage is set for them to be dishonest with you when you interact with them on a normal basis as a customer.

 

I agree that the earlier quote wasn't as clear in conveying my intent as I'd have liked, and have revised it to prevent anyone from being misled - my point wasn't that "AirVPN pays reviewers", but rather "Affiliate resellers of AirVPN have a financial stake (re: conflict of interest) when presenting their reviews" - and it becomes a problem when it is not disclosed to the reader:

 

"Do a search for “AirVPN review” and you will struggle to find many that are written by someone without a financial stake (re: conflict of interest) in readers purchasing service using the links in such reviews."

 

I talk to dozens of people on a daily basis, who are confused about what VPN service to purchase, largely because of the deluge of misinformation and native advertising that goes on.  Very few if any of these people are even initially aware that what they are reading is a paid advertisement, ultimately funded by people like them purchasing service using the link at the bottom (and top, and middle, and by every photo) of the review.

 

In most developed countries, there are laws specifically relating to the proper use of native advertising, especially where it comes to providing full and prominent disclosure - to prevent the very thing I describe above.

 

In short - I don't inherently have a problem with the concept of affiliate/"native" advertising - but when used, I believe it should be used ethically - that is, in such a way as to be clear about what it is and what it's trying to do (see such outlets as "The Wirecutter", and it should also follow FTC (or similar) guidelines - which 95% of VPN resellers do NOT follow, nor seem to care about.  I think that's a problem - and as stated at the beginning of all of my reviews, is strictly my opinion.

 

Sincerest apologies if my meaning was lost in the shuffle - I personally had a good experience with AirVPN and out of 20 reviews on the site now, and after trying almost double that personally, it's one of the best I've used (it earned the first Website and Features awards I've given any service so far!).  However, I think it, and 90% of commercial VPNs could improve where this type of marketing practice is concerned - for the sake of the industry and for potential customers that can, and often will be confused by such advertising formats.



#10 Staff

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 10:54 AM

@ThatOnePrivacyGuy

 

Thank you for your extensive reply. Unfortunately, we think that it does not address our corrections at all.
 

"Do a search for “AirVPN review” and you will struggle to find many that are written by someone without a financial stake (re: conflict of interest) in readers purchasing service using the links in such reviews."

 

 

First of all, this is not the original sentence of your article, The original sentence is: "Do a search for “AirVPN review” and just try to find one that isn’t written by someone paid to do so." which clearly suggests that an overwhelming majority of reviews are paid by us. This is false and defamatory because we don't pay for any review.

 

Additionally, at the moment of this writing and at the moment of the publication of your article, most of the reviews did/do not even contain a referral link. Tom's Hardware, Torrentfreak, vpnMentor, your own and even other reviews you can find on the first Google Search page are all reviews which not only have not been paid, but do not even include a referral link.

 

Therefore, if the aim of this thread is having a fair exchange of opinions to improve both sides, we would recommend that you do not apply old rhetoric tricks (admitting that a sentence is wrong to replace it with a different but equally false sentence) to twist your sentences in the mind of the readers, according to your own requirements of trust and transparency and your calls for "ethical" behaviors.

 

If a company doesn’t expect and enforce certain standards from their affiliates (not spamming, not breaking copyright, disclosing who they are, etc), they are approving these methods, and are not worthy of your trust. If they are willing to lie to you before you even buy into their service, the stage is set for them to be dishonest with you when you interact with them on a normal basis as a customer.

 

 

This is your opinion. We can respect it but we can't share it. The requirement of a disclaimer for a review including a referral link is in our opinion correct  and we already ask for it to our few, major referrals (who have of course the right to refuse if the applicable law for their web site does not require that). Of course we can't check all the referrals, it's humanly impossible, but we check all the referrals that refer to us more than 5-6 users per week. The referrals who don't refer any user to us can be checked randomly, but of course have a lower priority since they don't harm anybody.

 

About copyright enforcement we are in total disagreement. In the first place we are not copyright enforcers. It is not our duty, not our competence and not our will. Under this respect, your requirement is in our opinion unreasonable and legally unsustainable .

 

And since you stress a lot on "ethics" throughout your whole message, we think that your requirement is contradictory. Copyright is one sector of the wide set of different laws and international trade agreements pertaining to intellectual monopolies, which in the last century have been severely damaging innovation, harming and limiting freedom of expression, imposing barriers to seek and impart information and access to culture, science and art, and above all have been causing and are causing millions of deaths and dreadful suffering to hundreds of millions of people.

 

We can discuss endlessly about the horrors and the good of intellectual monopolies, but asking us to act as a copyright enforcer against some third-party web site is not only unreasonable under a legal point of view, but also unethical, because we would become a small part of that huge "machinery" that promotes one of the set of laws and one of those "mind attitudes" which are one of the causes (and not a negligible one, for what you can see in the last decades) of humankind pain especially in developing countries.  Let's leave this task to the "competent authorities".

 

 

In most developed countries, there are laws specifically relating to the proper use of native advertising, especially where it comes to providing full and prominent disclosure - to prevent the very thing I describe above.

 

 

That's correct. If you have time, please feel free to inform us if some review containing a referral link infringes the legal framework of the European Union on this subject. While we check all the referrals which bring to us customers, it's impossible for us to check all of those that don't send referred persons, so we leave the task to the public authorities who have the competence and duty to do so.

 

Last but not least, feel free to cite the reviews that in your opinion talk about our service with undeserved terms. We ask because we usually see that the reviews, even those that contain referral links, miss the strong points of our service, in our opinion - but of course we underline that it's impossible to read them all.

 

Kind regards



#11 ThatOnePrivacyGuy

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 01:46 PM

@Staff

 

It appears we disagree on many points.  I'll be brief in my response and leave it at that.

 

The point of my original statement was that your advertisers are businesses that are ultimately writing reviews because they will receive financial compensation for their work.  The conflict of interest was the point.  Therefore, the bias of the reviewer is the target of my statement, not necessarily the quality.

 

The three outlets (which are known affiliate advertisers) you mention currently have non-top-level outbound links.  This usually indicates to me that at one point in time an arrangement existed between you and them, and the review simply outlived that arrangement.

 

You may not agree that it's your responsibility to expect good behavior from your partners, but after cataloguing over 160 companies, it's the policy of more than one of your competitors to have their affiliates follow such rules - and also the actions of more than one - to cut off those that don't.

 

The European Union doesn't mince words on this subject: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32006L0114&from=EN

Misleading Advertising

According to the Directive, misleading advertising is any advertising which, in any way, including in its presentation, is capable of:

  • deceiving the persons to whom it is addressed;
  • distorting their economic behaviour; or
  • as a consequence, harming the interests of competitors.

When determining whether advertising is misleading, several factors shall be taken into account. These are:

  • the characteristics of the goods or services concerned;
  • the price;
  • the conditions of delivery of the goods or provision of the services involved;
  • the nature, attributes and rights of the advertiser.
Comparative Advertising

The Directive lays down the conditions under which comparative advertising is permitted and, in particular, it requires traders to make sure that their advertisements:

  • are not misleading;
  • compare "like with like" - goods and services meeting same needs or intended for the same purpose;
  • objectively compare important features of the products or services concerned;
  • do not discredit other companies trademarks;
  • do not create confusion among traders.

 

Best of luck and have a great day.

 

--That One Privacy Guy



#12 zhang888

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 03:14 PM

@ThatOnePrivacyGuy

 

You are missing the point when you put both the company/service advertising and potentially misleading 3d party advertising in the same basket.

Clearly you see the difference between the two, while some companies/services do misleading advertising on their own home page.

 

The EU act you cite, as well as many similar ones in other countries, talk only about a situation when, and where the company/service is

advertising it's own products in a deceitful and unethical way.

No one can cover a scenario where a 3d party "salesman" does whatever he does in order to promote a certain product, unless you believe

in some unrealistic utopia where all sales people are 100% honest.

 

How is that different than a case of a reputable company, -insert any reputable brand here-, having an unofficial sales person on the street

and falsely promotes features that this product may or may not have?

How will you enforce/prevent this from happening? Or will you suggest to "punish" that company for misleading advertising as well?

In which case, you should go after most retail brands - which are sometimes promoted by agressive sales persons with a % per each sale.


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#13 me.moo@posteo.me

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 03:35 PM

In essence you (@TheOnePrivacyGuy) are accusing AirVPN of deliberately misleading their customers or potential ones. Seems the reasons/rules/opinions you use to justify this are ill thought out. I did read your review but normally I would have closed the page and moved on to something sensible.



#14 Staff

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 05:00 PM

@ThatOnePrivacyGuy

 

Scope of the directive 2006/114/EC does not cover the cases you cite, because any essential requisite is missing: the subject is not an AirVPN employee or a person that is paid to write a review or anything else about AirVPN. On top of that, the reviews are not misleading, at least in our opinion. We would like to know which points in your opinion are misleading in some review because you keep failing to show them.

 

More relevant would be the totally different case of hidden advertisement, which is NOT covered by the Directive you cite (it is covered by 2005/29/EC).

 

For this very reason you can warn about reviews with a referral link but missing a disclaimer. As we said, we already check that, but for practical reasons we check only those referrals which effectively send users (anyway, the source of income from referrals is irrelevant, we're talking about negligible percentages).

Therefore:

 

  • you admitted that your review contained a misleading sentence (false and defamatory in our opinion) and you replace that sentence with another false sentence, as we have proved to you (for clarity: we refer to the first page of Google Search engine, no country redirect, where the majority of reviews do NOT contain any referral link: exactly the opposite of what suggested by your new sentence)
  • you cite a Directive pertaining to misleading, comparative advertisement, while you fail to provide where the review is misleading
  • then you change context and insinuate hidden advertisement, which is totally different and covered by a different Directive

We assume that you are in good faith, but you can see that some doubts may legitimately arise. For some people, it is somehow difficult to assume that you are able to commit so many mistakes for lack of information, when all of those mistakes are against us. When you agree with yourself and you can follow a coherent line based on correct, accurate information, we will surely be able to have a more constructive dialogue.

 

Kind regards



#15 giganerd

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 05:58 PM

I sense that even "VPN service reviewers" are in some kind of competition. Who's got the most honest and thorough review, least reeking of money?


Always remember:
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using spoilers for your logs helps us read your thread.

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#16 ThatOnePrivacyGuy

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 01:23 AM

@Staff

 

We clearly have differing opinions on the subject, I said what I had to say and I stand by it.  Have a great day.



#17 LZ1

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 02:39 AM

@Staff

 

We clearly have differing opinions on the subject, I said what I had to say and I stand by it.  Have a great day.

So despite not wanting to answer Staffs recent replies, will you nonetheless link to or otherwise openly acknowledge the exchanges made in this thread, on your website and/or in your original review? I think it's healthy for visitors to be able to get both sides "versions", if you will. Thank you for joining up and being willing to explain your position :).


Hi there, are you new to AirVPN? Many of your questions are already answered in this guide. Its Guides Section has guides on Linux/Torrenting/Blocked sites & many other topics too.
Moderators do not speak on behalf of AirVPN. Only the Official Staff account does. Please read the First Questions section in the link above for more details, thank you.
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#18 me.moo@posteo.me

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:59 AM


@Staff

 

We clearly have differing opinions on the subject, I said what I had to say and I stand by it.  Have a great day.

Opinions are one thing. Try facts next time. And as far as replies go especially from someone who has so much to say and publishes it, that is about the weakest I have ever come across.



#19 J03ND03H@ash

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 06:01 AM

@Staff

 

We clearly have differing opinions on the subject, I said what I had to say and I stand by it.  Have a great day.

Hello,

 

I'm new here and I understand both sides.  For what is worth the only reason I'm here "as a member" is because of the @thatoneprivacyguy reviews in a sea of "BS".  When I started the search for a VPN service I tried to due my due diligence to find as much information as possible from the "many" VPN providers.  I quickly found that this is impossible without spending countless hours or days in my case separating the legitimate feedback from bias opinions.   Is even harder to gather information from current customers because most of the grips are just hearsay or technical issues which may or may not be directly tied to the service.  I know that this guy will most likely get attacked here because of the remarks he made which I won't comment because I'm not here to defend or take sides with anyone.  The information he provides won't be found anywhere else period, I know because I looked. Transparency is becoming extinct because everyone is out to make a buck and is not in your best interest to offend anyone.  I'm glad found this service which meets my needs in regards to privacy, security and functionality, and didn't get blinded by all the paid advertisement, outright lies and marketing BS which gets most consumers who get bombarded with these ads.  Just my 2 cents, thanks...



#20 Staff

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 10:22 AM

@Staff

 

We clearly have differing opinions on the subject, I said what I had to say and I stand by it.  Have a great day.

 

We already proved that it's not a matter of opinions. You lie on facts and after your replies it seems that you do so deliberately. We have showed everyone the proof of your lies.

 

We lock the thread to prevent any modification to it, as a permanent reminder of the aforementioned lies.

 

Kind regards






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