aakk9999 - 5:06 pm on Aug 11, 2013 (gmt 0)
Both, robots meta tag and robots.txt exclusion can target a specific bot (e.g. googlebot).
The main difference is that if meta tag is used, the page will be crawled, but not indexed, but if robots.txt is used, the page will not* be crawled, but it may be indexed.
(*) Unless Google+ button is on the page, in which case it may be crawled despite robots.txt exclusion
I do not think footer links are directly connected to Panda, but they will affect how the link juice is distributed through the site.
I have heard that footer links can also trigger Panda also penalty.
Here is a thread from about a year ago that discusses connection between footer links and Panda and opinions and experiences are different amongst members: [webmasterworld.com...]