Are Advertising “Bribes” Unethical?

by Matt McCaffrey

Wherever there are entrepreneurs finding new ways to earn money, it’s a safe bet government regulators won’t be far away. So it is with the online entrepreneurs known as “influencers.” Internet personalities like PewDiePie build enormously successful businesses using little more than a microphone and some video equipment, and naturally, government isn’t going to stand for that.

Consequently, the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on undisclosed sponsorship deals between video game developers and the online influencers who play and review their products. The FTC claims that some influencers failed to properly disclose their financial relationships, which in turn deceived viewers, who were unaware of possible conflicts of interest. I’ve discussed the economic implications of these cases elsewhere, so here I’ll focus on some of the ethical issues.

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