lyoness-logoBack in October we covered Delfi’s reporting of a news story concerning the activities of Lyoness affiliates in Tallinn, Estonia.

For those unfamiliar with Delfi, they are

a major internet portal in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania providing daily news, ranging from gardening to politics.

It ranks as the most popular website among Lithuanian and Estonian internet users.

The news story in question was a piece detailing the scamming of Estonia’s deaf community by local Lyoness affiliates.

Without going into too much detail, promises were made to people who couldn’t afford to join, loans were taken out, the Lyoness affiliates made their money and then a sizable portion of Tallinn’s deaf community were left holding the bag.

A few days ago a BehindMLM reader noticed that the link we provided to the original Delfi news article was returning 404 (not found).

This prompted a bit of research on my part, as I was curious why Delfi had pulled their story.

I discovered the article had only recently been taken down, as it was still showing up in Google’s search results:


How strange.

I left it at that, as I was at the time unable to ascertain why Delfi had taken their news story down.

On December 27th however, a new Lyoness article appeared on Delfi. See if you can spot any editorial differences.

The new Delfi Lyoness article was penned by Hendrik I. Pass of “AG Kaubanduse juht”.

From what I’ve been able to make out, AG Kaubanduse juht are an Estonian clothing retailer;

A & G Trading Ltd.’s mission is to bring the Estonian people well-known clothing brands in Europe, to provide the best shopping experience and service to customers and the implementation of satisfaction and well-being.

Pass’ article in Delfi is titled “Customer card dead? Long live the customer’s card or cards Future Trends”.

Have a read:

Lyoness operates in Ireland in the market for three years and brings together nearly 120,000 in 1000, and the final consumer purchase. Added to this is the purchaser more than 5 million in 46 countries.

International loyalty program customers have joined our company in 2015 generated turnover of approximately € 800,000.

According to statistics, sales of companies operating in the loyalty program Lyonesse Subscription generate an average of 10-15% of the additional turnover per year.

How is this possible? Very easy – arrived in a new reality, one card, one of the world.

This card can be used in several different countries and obviously it will replace the majority of the customer’s card cards consumer wallets.

Thanks to the mobile phone card, the consumer is always with you and more experienced customers pay for purchases with your phone.

Consumers are buying every purchase will receive the money back and collect the points of purchase. Simple, straightforward and convenient.

Loyalty to the company joined the program can access important ostukogukonnale the proper customer management software (CRM), which can also be used to carry out targeted marketing for SMEs, saving to previously spent time, money and advice, which was provided by an advertising agency.

Cash Back-Pack Solutions provided the company with a proper CRM, loyalty assessment, statistical analysis tools.

Also, the possibility of free targeted special offers, sending newsletters and to carry out customer satisfaction surveys. Obviously, these options will help reduce marketing costs.

Another big advantage is the company being in the picture, in which consumers use the mobile application to help customers to find your business by using the Google map application.

I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to differentiating between legitimate news articles and paid advertising. And in my opinion, Pass’ piece in Delfi is obviously the latter.

So um… Delfi take down a news story about Estonian Lyoness affiliates scamming the local deaf community, and replace it with a Lyoness infomercial?

What gives?

With nothing to go on I turned to comments left on Pass’ article by Delfi readers.

At the time of publication there are some fifty-four comments posted, a perusal of which reveals I’m not the only one questioning Delfi’s editorial credibility.

Why not an article at the remark “paid post”?

Is it lyoness free advertising?

Blurb, this is a text ad, the ad text that is !!!!!!!

This promotional article must have cost a lot?

I think it’s not unreasonable for most readers to draw similar conclusions, but it was this comment in particular that stood out:

It can be assumed that DELFI had to publish this article free of charge, since otherwise they threatened to sue the Lyoness for D E LFI wrote a few months ago appeared on the radar sending Lyonesse petuloost.

Also, Channel 2 you threatened Lyoness Tribunal.

I’m not sure what the “Channel 2” reference is, but it sounds like Lyoness might have a history of making legal threats against the Estonian media.

Bear in mind though that this is a comment from a Delfi reader, I wasn’t able to verify that Lyoness had made any legal threats against Delfi myself.

That said, I have to wonder why Estonia’s most popular news portal wouldn’t call their bluff. Censoring news coverage critical of Lyoness and replacing it with advertising seems pretty drastic for a major media publication.

Further research reveals Wikipedia’s entry on Delfi having its own “freedom of speech” subsection.

Because visitors of Delfi can anonymously comment on every news story, this site generates debates over freedom of speech in the Baltic States.

Some members of the Estonian and Lithuanian Parliaments have proposed laws making Delfi and other news portals responsible for the contents of anonymous comments.

In September 2006, attorneys of Artūras Zuokas, the mayor for Vilnius, asked public prosecutors to seize Delfi servers and reveal the IP addresses of all anonymous commentators that have written comments about him in several Delfi publications.

March 2015 Estonian Delfi started defamation campaign against Conservative People’s Party of Estonia and closed comment sections because of ideological disagreement and, arguably, because of harsh criticism they received.

In June 2015, the European Court of Human Rights unexpectedly ruled in Delfi AS v. Estonia that was responsible for its readers’ comments.

Granted the above relates to reader comments, but perhaps wider freedom of speech, particularly that of the press, isn’t quite what we take for granted elsewhere.

That said, according to FreedomHouse, Estonia’s

constitution provides for freedoms of speech and the press, and the government respects these rights in practice.

Libel is not a criminal offense, but journalists can be sued for civil defamation.

Legal amendments enacted in 2010 contained provisions that many observers regarded as threats to freedom of speech, including a measure that would allow courts to jail journalists for refusing to disclose their sources in cases involving major crimes.

Earlier this year Estonia also polled tenth on the World Press Freedom Index.

Lyoness corporate meanwhile would have been fully-aware of Delfi’s article before it was published, as the publication reached out to the CEO of Lyoness Estonia for comment.

Ott Neeme turned down Delfi, claliming that ‘Lyoness Europe would not allow him to give an interview’.

To date Delfi haven’t issued a public statement as to why they replaced the article covering Lyoness affiliate scamming with advertising. And getting one, in light of how they’ve quietly gone about censoring themselves, is probably unlikely.

Pending further information our own coverage ends here. Definitely one for the Things that make you go hmmm… file.