Where’s the outrage, the angst, the anger? The self- righteousness that is routinely hurled upon the mainstream media by self-appointed watchdogs when the old guard put so much as a toe out of line? I refer to the potential corruption of social media through the pay for post strategy – either through cash or inducements – increasingly adopted by the travel industry.

The most obvious example is the revelation on Media Watch that the South Australian Tourism Commission has been paying celebrities such as chef Matt Moran $750 for each favourable Tweet about Kangaroo Island.

Moran did not have to disclose that he was being paid for the Tweet. In any other medium, it would be called advertising.

This news did get reasonable coverage in both old and new media. However, views were split fairly equally. Many thought it was ok, others did not.

Whatever you think, it was quite easy to form an opinion because there were clear reference points – the best being the established and tightly regulated medium of radio where announcers must now disclose if they are being paid for pumping a product.

Pay for comment is a black and white issue, for me at least, but there is also an awful lot grey in the world of social media.

Take the current promotion by Tourism Queensland, which is bringing 10 bloggers to Queensland in early June in a variation of its phenomenally successful ‘Best Job In The World’ campaign.

They are the winners of a competition run by Darren Rowse, who writes the ProBlogger.net blog.

Entrants were asked them to explain in 150 words why they would make the ideal ‘Queensland Blogger Correspondent’.

The aim, as Tourism Queensland CEO Anthony Hayes said, “is to show them our unmatched world-class tourism experience and inspire them to promote Queensland.”

As a marketer I think it’s a great idea from Tourism Queensland.

But is it right for the bloggers to compete for a prize such as the one they’ve accepted, which clearly comes with an obligation to say great things about Queensland?

As a trained journalist, I don’t think so. There needs to be disclosure and a degree of scepticism.

But then I’ve been raised in the traditional media, and plenty of other people would think otherwise.

Right now, social media is is a free-for-all, a gold rush and if you’re in PR or marketing and want to twist someone’s message for a few bucks, a free trip or meal, why the hell not. It’s cheap.

The thing is, though, I just can’t help thinking social media is a little bit corrupt – pretending to be something it is not. Social. You don’t pay your friends to like you.

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