Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"PopSugar Stole Influencers’ Instagrams — Along With Their Profits"

On Sunday evening, Maren Jensen, who runs the blog Midwest in Style, logged on to a Facebook group where she swaps advice and support with about 2,000 other members who work with the affiliate platform RewardStyle and its Instagram product The top post was a screenshot another member had taken from the lifestyle website PopSugar: it looked almost like the blogger’s own Instagram — with her handle, profile picture, and feed of several hundred photos — but every post linked to a shopping page where visitors could purchase the items.

In place of the usual RewardStyle affiliate links — which drove commissions on $1 billion in sales in 2017 and are a significant source of many bloggers’ incomes — there were PopSugar’s own affiliate links, meaning any revenues generated would go to the site, not the influencer.


On Tuesday evening, PopSugar co-founder and CEO Brian Sugar tweeted an explanation: The tool was developed during a hackathon in summer 2017, “to analyze fashion and beauty bloggers and the products they featured,” and the URLs, which were intended for internal use only, were mistakenly left open, albeit hidden from search engine indexing and social media.