Were you manipulated by deceptive adverts you see online?

Source: SlideShare
Source: SlideShare

With reference to Glenn GreenwaldAnything posted online, stays online. Everyone has an intention for things they post online – no matter ill or good.

Due to the increasing emphasis on web connectivity, almost everyone has a social media account. Since it’s their personal account, they have the freedom of speech to post their opinions online. However, not all speeches are created equal – some unprotected speech have limitations online.  As such, any comments made by an individual can be detrimental to related issues as their opinions may mislead and cause misinformation.

To this, deceptive advertising is a debatable issue relative to the ethical use of social media.

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

To illustrate my point, let me refer you to this case.

In it, Sony engages an advertising agency (Deutsch) to promote its new launch.

Source: Federal Trade Commission
Source: Federal Trade Commission

As seen from the snippet above, Deutsch has instigated its employees to make false claims on Twitter, without them even trying the product, or even worse – without disclosing their relationship with the firm. This has led to dire consequences as Deutsch has violated the FTC Act – conducting deceptive advertising with endorsements methods that are deployed unethically.

Tackling the above circumstances…

Here’s an informative video below on FTC requirements on ethical endorsement!

Source: YouTube

Paid endorsement needs to be known!



If that is not sufficient to shoot-down such unethical use of social media for false advertising…

What if I told you that you have been manipulated for at least once in your life from social influencers?

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Influencers leverage on social media as means of business use; they boast a substantial amount of followers and thus, possesses the power to influence the minds of readers. Readers might take their review at face value and not do more research on the issue.

I’m sure you had once encountered an online review posted by a famous influencer and was immediately caught on to the credence of it.

Let me bring your attention to another case here, and here.

Source: Ellie Gillingham
Source: Ellie Gillingham

Source: Elite Daily
Source: Elite Daily

Source: World.Mic
Source: World.Mic

Key takeaways from the cases above – Influencers would partake in unethical moves to un-genuinely promote and subtly endorse (unethical advertising!) for products that they had no prior contact or experience with, not seeking whether it is harmful or detrimental to the masses or not – for the sake of money.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google 

In an effort to reach out to the masses, companies might even utilise unethical methods like Search Engine Optimization tools to manipulate and conceal social media contents, or even generating “likes” or paid positive reviews on social media platforms with fake accounts.

To tackle such unethical situations…

Source: MarketingChloe
Source: MarketingChloe

Companies could adopt campaigns – Keep Social Honest Campaign (Thomas Brown, 2014) and align their internal policies with social media engagement policies. As illustrated, there are 10 steps for people to adhere to, highlighting the importance of integrity, so as to encourage influencers to post responsibly – posting not only the advantages but also the potential disadvantages of whatever they are proposing.

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Also, followers should also be socially conscious to research on the reliability of issues, and not blindly getting influenced to things they see online. All in all, social media is a powerful and effective tool in propagating ideas – both good or bad. The ethical issue of false ideas and advertising spread by social media influencers is a rising concern as it could lead to severe implications and violation of social media ethics.


Fair, L. (2014). Game over: FTC challenges Sony’s claims for PlayStation Vita and tweets by Deutsch LA. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2014/11/game-over-ftc-challenges-sonys-claims-playstation-vita

Howard, M. (2015). FTC Cracks Down on Social Media Deceptive Advertising. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://www.business2community.com/social-media/ftc-cracks-social-media-deceptive-advertising-01126350#74foUgZT47D3j57P.97

Ray, A. (2008). Social Media, Rumors, and Defamation. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/social-media-rumors-and-defamation

Hawkins, S. (2012). How Free Speech and Social Media Fit Together. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-free-speech-and-social-media-fit-together/

Brown, T. (2014). The Befitting Brand: Ethical Use of Social Media in Business. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/social-media-marketing/the-befitting-brand-ethical-use-of-social-media-in-business#

Gillingham, E. (2011). The Ethics of Celebrity Endorsement Via Social Media Sites. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from https://elliegillingham.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/the-ethics-of-celebrity-endorsement-via-social-media-sites/

Vinjamuri, D. (2011). Ethics and the Five Deadly Sins of Social Media. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2011/11/03/ethics-and-the-5-deadly-sins-of-social-media/

Levine, E. (2015). Former Instagram Model Edits Her Posts To Reveal Truth Behind The Photos. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://elitedaily.com/social-news/former-model-reveals-truth-fake-instagram/1268924/

Greenwald, G. (2014). Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters#t-574685

Wallace, T. (2014). 5 Ridiculous Celebrity Endorsements That Went Way Wrong. Retrieved 9 November, 2015 from http://mic.com/articles/80285/5-ridiculous-celebrity-endorsements-that-went-way-wrong#.pILA2Qkwt



3 thoughts on “Were you manipulated by deceptive adverts you see online?

  1. Hi Venezia!

    Very insightful post you got here. I like that you see things beyond the advertisements and talk about unethical marketing.

    It is indeed unethical for companies to be falsely promoting products/service that will in-turn harm consumers but that’s how companies make money don’t you think? By providing that sugar-coated layer of information that consumers want to hear.

    As marketers in future, we have to ensure that our product/service reaches the masses but at the same in an ethical way. Knowing this, would you still market a product that it is harmful to consumers? This is a decision between your job and your own morals. Which will you choose?

    Thank you for your post and I hope to hear from you again! 


  2. Pingback: vanna

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