PBS To Modify Google Link Disclaimer

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PBS, which has had Google ad links on some of its pages--though not the home page--since January, says it will modify the disclosure page for those links to include a specific advisory that clicking on the links is taking the surfer to a different site with different policies.

Starting this week, the explanation, which is linked to all the Google links--, will include a line to the effect that "when you leave this site, you will be subjected to the privacy policies and conditions of the external site."

"This will provide even more transparency," says Kevin Dando, director, education and online communication, for PBS, who points out that the About PBS Sponsored Links Page (check it out at http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/aboutpbs_whatisthis.html) already explains the who, what, why and how of the links.

The move comes after a complaint to PBS ombudsman Michael Getler from Center For Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeff Chester, who has been critical of PBS over addition of the external links from Google advertisers, as well as PBS' decision to start running banner ads on many of its Web sites.

In his letter, Chester said: "First, such ad links should not appear at all (nor, in my opinion, the ads that are about to become more prominent this Fall). But, at the very least, users should be made aware that they are leaving the PBS site; that this is a paid promotion; and that data may be collected and used."

"He asked a good question," says Dando. "We thought: 'we already have this page up, let's add this information."

As to not having the links at all, Dando says PBS has only received 10 comments on the links, not all of them negative.

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