Update: A lot of people seem to be under the mistaken impression that the YouTubers were in the wrong here. They were not (hence why WB was the only one targeted by the FTC). YouTubers like PewDiePie were under no obligation to disclose the terms of their deal (and, actually, Pewds and some of the others did so anyway in their video descriptions), while Warner Bros. was and failed to do so. The post’s text has been updated to better reflect this fact.
A while ago, several popular YouTubers made videos about the game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. What many of them failed to disclose, however, was that producer Warner Bros. paid them to do so—and Warner Bros. said nothing about it either. Because they got paid, the YouTubers had to adhere to some rules: they couldn’t say anything negative about the game or Warner Bros., they had to link to the game’s website, and they had to verbally encourage their viewers to actually click on that link. These videos garnered over 5.5 million views, with over 3.7 million coming from PewDiePie alone, but Warner Bros.’ failure to disclose the sponsorship of YouTubers got the company in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. Fortunately for the producer, both parties have reached a settlement now.
According to this settlement, Warner Bros. may never fail to disclose deals like this in the future and is also not allowed to pretend that sponsored videos are fully the work of independent producers anymore. This sounds more than a warning than an actual punishment, since they don’t have to pay a fine or anything like that, but at least the truth has come out.
Do you think the FTC should have been harder on Warner Bros.? Or do you perhaps think that YouTubers themselves should have done more to make the sponsorship apparent? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Federal Trade Commission