Let me begin by saying that I do not use Youtube as a medium of self expression, though I have considered it. Let me also concede that there's a decent amount about this already from people far more “in it” than I, but hey, its something current that needs talking about and I don’t want to not post something for too long, lest people who frequent here think I have departed for that big Fallout 3 in the sky.
Now recently, a study was done -link here
-of several Youtubers who admitted to taking money for coverage. Now while the numbers that were posted were relatively high, you also have to take into account those who straight up lied about any involvement. This survey should also be taken with a grain of salt, as all surveys should but it does raise issues around promotion.Some people will wonder why people taking money for promotion is such a bad thing, and that’s a fair question. Totalbiscut does this sort of thing, and no-one really takes issue with his promotional stuff. But the key for him is that he discloses when he’s doing something promotional and is taking steps to make that even more transparent. And therein lies the issue at the root of the core of the center of this rotten apple…in the center of the earth. Or something.
The issue is transparency, and this creates a severe question about the ethics of youtube journalism. Theres probably a fair amount of youtubers out there who don’t disclose this sort of promotional deal-look no further than Machinima, which was caught producing content for the Xbox one for money. The problem they ran into is that they told no-one about it. It got found out, and they took yet another hit to their credibility, which has slowly been dropping for a while now but this helps highlight the problem at hand. This happened a while ago, but if even a big channel like them is doing stuff like this, than what are the implications for smaller channels? That may have seemed like an unlikely or small issue before, but this survey highlights that it may be neither of those things at this point. Hell, Machinima has been seen as iffy for a while now and could therefore be passed off as an anomaly, but this is undeniable.
Not only is this practice against the law, but more importantly it violates the trust between viewer and viewee. These laws are weakly enforced at best, at least if this is this widespread without any FTC action, but that means that said laws are pretty unimportant to the discussion at this juncture. Taking money for coverage without telling your audience is unethical, and if my itty bitty little blog got paid to write something up or have adverts or some other stuff, you can bet your ass I would take that sweet cash-but I would also make sure to alert you to the situation. The audience is the reason for your youtube channel and what money you make off of it, and when you lie to them about your coverage and payment you break the trust between them as surely as Ubisoft releasing Watch_Dogs crippled
broke the trust between PC gamers and the devs. They deserve to know if you are actually enthusiastic about what you are promoting, or are being paid for the promotion. Yes, maybe if they know they will get upset, or decide not to get interested in that thing due to the promotion aspect, but that’s their decision to make, and considering they are what supports your channel you owe them that decision. Youtubers who do promote gaming content are in the spotlight, and even smaller ones have an audience that depends on them for news and opinions. Taking advantage of that trust is poor form, and if your audience finds out and leaves to find someone they can trust, I can’t say I have much sympathy.
So there's my thoughts on the topic. Again, I have very little insight on the topic but I thought I would just let ya know what I thought and maybe make more people aware of the issue. Another blog will be forthcoming, and if I start gettting a regular enough following I will try to be a lot less sporadic. Generally when something happens that pisses me off or makes me happy I want to talk about it, so given the stuff the gaming industry likes to pull, I should have fresh material soon enough. Feel free to let me know what you think, suggested corrections or whatever, I do actually value the feedback.