Ethics, brought to you by influencers

Anika Chandra, Staff Writer

Sponsorships have taken over the internet. You cannot go on Youtube, Instagram or Tik Tok without encountering someone trying to sell you something. These constant endorsements have led to viewer fatigue and a wariness about sponsorships; people are tired of feeling like pawns in social media’s chess game of influencing and earning.

A sponsorship is a deal influencers and celebrities make with brands in which they agree to promote the company in exchange for compensation and or free products. The influencer seal of approval is advertising for these brands; it adds appeal.

Viewers rely on influencers to be honest about their endorsements. However, it is difficult to trust someone who is getting paid to say something. Self respect and fear of negative reaction are the only things stopping an influencer from lying, and these limitations do not amount to much.

Payment for a sponsorship depends on the platform and level of fame. For example, a micro-influencer usually makes between $200 and $1250 per TikTok while a celebrity can earn more than $20,000 per Instagram post.

Some endorsements are unpaid. This occurs when influencers receive free products and are expected, but not required, to feature the brand on their account. Many social media stars thus rarely have to buy things like clothing or technology. This brings up the important question: is it fair that influencers are given free products while those who cannot afford them must fend for themselves? It is easy to criticize influencers here. However, how can we blame them for accepting gifts? It is unreasonable to condemn influencers for benefiting from someone else’s decisions.

In addition to creating a seemingly inequitable arrangement, the quality of the brand involved is another source of scrutiny surrounding sponsorships. When an influencer promotes a disreputable company, it becomes clear that their intention was to help themself more than their audience. Partnerships with SHEIN, a company notorious for overworking employees and fast fashion, will almost guarantee criticism from the public. Because their malpractice is so well-known, it is appalling to many fans that their favorite influencer would stoop so low as to work with such an immoral brand.

Although we cannot always depend on influencers to tell the truth about sponsorships, shunning these deals all together would be excessive. Firstly, many public figures are genuine about the partnerships they take on, only working with brands they actually use. It is insensible to punish an entire industry for some people’s dishonesty. Additionally, taking away sponsorships would cause many influencers to lose a large portion of the income stream, putting them in financial danger. Finally, some small businesses use sponsorships and free products for exposure. These companies bring more diversity and competition to the economy.