A little ethics in YouTubing. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a final order prohibiting Machinima (the corporate media organization, not the act of using in-engine assets to make videos) from utilizing new wave media influencers from promoting products without disclosure.
Over on the official FTC website they announced that they investigated and have initiated a final order against Machinima to enforce disclosure when YouTubers are paid to promote or endorse products. This is something that fits in line with the standard guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission when endorsing or promoting products. Just last year in 2015 the FTC updated their guidelines to better accommodate the ever-changing landscape of ads, promotions, native advertising and endorsements through the digital landscape.
A campaign by #GamerGate was put together to notify the FTC about Gawker Media and other media institutions — including gaming outlets like VG 24/7 — about their use of affiliate links and promotion of native ads without disclosure. The FTC responded by investigating some of these outlets, in addition to recently rendering a verdict on the Machinima case that originally took place back in 2014 when the XB1M13 campaign was originally put into effect by Machinima and Microsoft… the latter of which claimed ignorance in the matter of undisclosed promotion of their product, the Xbox One.
As stated on the FTC’s website, Machinima must disclose paid endorsements and they must inform YouTubers working under them to also disclose paid endorsements…
“The final order settling the complaint prohibits Machinima from misrepresenting in any influencer campaign that the endorser is an independent user of the product or service being promoted. Among other things, it also requires Machinima to ensure that all of its influencers are aware of their responsibility to make required disclosures, requires Machinima to monitor its influencers’ representations and disclosures, and prohibits Machinima from compensating influencers who make misrepresentations or fail to make the required disclosures.”
This mandate isn’t limited to Machinima.
If you find other MCN (Multi-Channel Network) partners promoting or endorsing a game without disclosure, you can report them to the FTC. Sometimes YouTubers may not be aware of the FTC regulations regarding paid endorsements and advertisements through print, digital or new wave media. However, it should be within the MCN’s best interest to inform and enlighten their partners about these regulations and rules to avoid any potential fines.
You can read the official decision and order from the FTC regarding the mandate by checking out the PDF of the report.