Influence is something we all have, everyone has influence on others. However, the source or the degree of influence may vary depending on the person. The source of the influence may be the relationships one has with others or one’s social status can be what creates such power of influence. This power of influence becomes more evident for people with popularity such as public figures and also people are popular through online platform and is proved through diverse areas. Among the many areas where their influence has great power, advertisement is one where they appear to have great impact.
Targets of advertisements that use “influencers” can be almost anything including concepts, commodities, facilities, opinions, campaigns and even people. There is no limit to things that can be promoted using people’s influence that their power seems so strong. This may seem like a no big deal but something so natural in a modern society. However, problems lie in the fact that these influences are greatly monetized these days. The commercially used influence may be something that has always existed for so long in different ways. But for sure, in a modern time where social media dominates the society, the channel of the influence has expanded enormously in a way that never existed that monetized influence can have so much harm compared to other times.
The changed condition has created ethical issues of how people strive to expand their influence. In order to reach out to more people and make the public be aware of them, people use ruthless and often undesirable and unethical ways to catch others’ attention by creating and uploading fake and provocative contents on their social media accounts. Since the impact they have is directly related to the pay they receive and the pay they generally get is quite a large amount, influencers craving for more attention and popularity end up trying abusive ways to promote themselves which are effective in a way. Although this has opened a new market where influencers can have more chances to earn money, the people who are influenced have no choice but to accept the destructive influence of the overflowing contents on their social media.
Another big issue derived is about how the influence is used commercially. Since people just need to pay an amount of money to use the influence of others, the impact is abused in many ways. Influencers may advertise fake information, goods and others, just to be paid. This means those who hold the money eventually dominate the trend or the opinion of the majority by “buying” others’ influence. Under such circumstances, manipulating situations and public opinions becomes very easy for those who have financial capacity. As countless influencers with a number of followers post false advertisement on their accounts for money, people’s feeds get occupied by fake information and news while it becomes difficult to hold someone to be responsible for the consequence.
With the increasing impact of influence being more evident in our society, more people are engaging to build their influence (so-called brand power) and more people are willing to buy those for their good. So what I want to question here is, is this acceptable? Is this truly okay for us to monetize influence? Unless wise use of the influence is expected in our society, my answer is no.