Do influencers have a responsibility for how people respond to their content?
In 2021, the Wall Street Journal published the “Facebook Files.” This uncovered research made by Facebook (now, Meta). It found that Instagram is making body issues worse for one in three teenage girls, mainly due to the unhealthy comparison that teenage girls self-sabotage with. This, unsurprisingly, sparked a debate about how much responsibility the Influencers on social media platforms have, and if this responsibility comes hand in hand with each other. Social media and the digital landscape were incredibly different even just a few years ago, the ever-moving fast-changing nature of this can make it not only hard to track, but also manage.
Are influencers responsible for what they post?
The ability to actually influence and motivate anybody with anything you post online, obviously, has implications. What is the role of an influencer in society?
The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 or 100,00 followers – you will always be able to influence one person with what you post online. The impact that you have online is something that everybody should take accountability for.
However, “with great power comes great responsibility” almost does ring true. With more followers, you have the ability to impact more people. This, arguably, means being more mindful of what you post.
The different levels of social responsibility
Obviously, there are different levels – posting a bikini picture, while it might upset some people, is completely fine and anybody, regardless of followers, should be able to do this.
However, it becomes a larger issue when you edit your pictures and distort your body to fit certain body standards. While you are completely in your right to do so, there is an ethical question as to whether or not you should announce that you have done this.
If you also decide to sell products online and promote them on social media, this is also completely fine (and great in many cases), but you do have a certain responsibility to ensure that the products are safe and ethical.
An influencer should only promote something that they genuinely support, otherwise, the lines of ethics are blurred once again.
On the darker side, promoting hateful opinions is the last thing influencers should consider. Of course, everybody is entitled to their opinion, but you do have a responsibility to ensure that your opinions and words do not harm or upset others. For this reason, many influencers choose to be impartial about certain topics and social issues.
Censorship of content
Censorship is a term that is used very loosely today. When influencers get banned from sites, they claim it is censorship. In the same way that influencers can let go of any responsibility they have with their posts, they also have to let go of the idea that they won’t be held accountable by private companies.
In short, influencers are technically not responsible for how others feel about them and how their content makes others feel. However, you are responsible for the content that you post, the image it promotes, and any repercussions you may face from it.
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