Yahoo Finance backtracks on personal finance story
Mandi Woodruff, a personal finance writer for Yahoo Finance, writes Wednesday about how a story earlier this month about a self-made 27-year-old millionaire turned out to be false.
Woodruff writes, “In personal finance reporting, much of what we write about is based on first-person accounts shared with us by everyday consumers. A difficult part of the work is often convincing these people to reveal personal details about their finances, a sensitive subject for many. Many of the stories we write don’t exactly feature people in the best light, either; for example, we’ve written about people who earn six figures and still feel broke, people who can’t afford health insurance, and people who are mired in student debt. Often, we trust folks to tell us the truth because they have so little to gain by sharing their story with us. In fact, having their names and faces published on one of the biggest websites in the world can sometimes work against them.
“In the case of Ivanov, we were not diligent enough when it came to looking for ways he might personally gain by sharing his story with our audience. Yes, we knew he would certainly see an uptick in his blog’s traffic, but other than that, there didn’t seem to be much opportunity for financial gain. He was not, to our knowledge, selling financial products or working for a financial services firm in any capacity. He is a full-time software engineer and we have verified that he’s been working for a San Diego-based software company since at least last February. And because we sought Ivanov out for the article and not the other way around, we did not suspect he might use this publication for his own financial gain.
“It wasn’t until we confronted him about his Facebook confession that he revealed that he received kickbacks from financial service companies for referrals sent from his website. These commissions ranged from $10 to $75 each time someone signed up for their services from a link posted on Ivanov’s site, although he would not give other details about them or tell us how much he earned from traffic generated by Yahoo’s story.”
Read more here.