The spiralling of the peso to levels not seen in 12 years is alarming may pundits, many of whom use their large followings on social media to hawk imported goods or foreign-branded goods. These social media marketers face a possible hit on their online income streams if the traders of their goods themselves face dips in demand and start to consider cuts in spend on marketing activities — such as propping up the lifestyle of Twitter “influencers” with freebies.
It is also important to note how these “influencers” have encouraged an unsustainable consumerist lifestyle amongst their legions of millennial followers possibly contributing to an economy with an unhealthy dependence on consumption for growth and an enormous appetite for imported consumer non-durables that neither contribute to labour productivity nor improve the financial wellbeing of ordinary Filipinos.
Even more important is how these Netizens now use their followers, many of whom followed them for their lifestyle content, to disseminate their personal poltical views. This is a dishonest activity in a way in that it exploits a captured audience acquired in a misleading manner.
Social media product influencers, in this regard, are unreliable as commentators on political and social issues because they are saddled with inherent conflicts of interest that likely colour their perspectives. If, for example, the tide of public outrage of the moment shifts to a brand they happen to be endorsing, would this topic be a no-go-zone for their social “commentary”?
Filipinos should start being a bit more discerning of the “influencers” they choose to follow and whose positions on crticial issues they choose to subscribe to. Big Media, itself, has been criticised for not giving enough coverage to the plight of workers on strike against food manufacturing giant NutriAsia Group owing to this company being a top spender on broadcast media advertising. Social media “influencer” Noemi Dado, for her part, is a vocal advocate of the “rights” of these striking workers — which leads one to wonder if Dado would have been as vocal had NutriAsia been one of her social media “consulting” clients.
Many of these “influencers”, themselves, had long been proponents of “citizen journalism” as an alternative to Big Media. In the earlier days of social media, these “influencers” were very persuasive in their assertion that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter democratised mass communication and provided a powerful platform for “independent” discourse that would give Big Corporate Media a run for their money. It’s high time that these “influencers” be, themselves, scrutinised and evaluated on whether their own use of these platforms are truly consistent with their personal “advocacies”. Indeed, with unprecedented freedom and access to powerful tools of persuasion extended to more Filipinos by technology comes more responsibility to be vigilant of those who have come to be adept in the use of these tools. Perhaps it is possible that they themselves have become part of the very Establishment they once sought to disrupt.