Elvinelol is a small, independent online store that sells electronic devices, both in-store and online. It started as an option for myself, but now the store has grown quite a bit, and I can confidently say that over half of our sales are not just to me. As a result, there are many questions surrounding the company, and I have tried to answer some of them.
When we go online to find an answer to our problem, we often don’t expect to be taken advantage of. We trust the salesperson that represents the product or service we’ve chosen. We trust the person that we follow, the advice they give us, and the recommendations that we read. Unfortunately, this trust can be exploited. We as consumers are the ones who make the decision of whether a product is good enough for us to purchase. At some point we take that risk with the brands that we trust, which creates a dangerous and unfair system that puts the consumer at a disadvantage.
In today’s post I will be talking about the trust we place in influencers and the brands that support them. I will also be talking about how brands can manipulate the way we see them, and how we can help fight this manipulation.
Thomas Cheung, a well-known video game influencer and employee of Hi-Rez Studios, the creators of SMITE, Paladins, and Realm Royale, was recently detained as part of Operation Interception. Operation Interception was a sting operation, similar to Chris Hansen’s “To Catch a Predator” series, in which defendants were captured soliciting sex with minors. While everyone is presumed innocent unless proved guilty, the accusations and evidence provided so far are grave.
Of course, in our culture, this isn’t a one-time occurrence. These busts happen all the time, and our police and judicial system work tirelessly to safeguard society from such damage. Elvinelol was a prominent influencer who was connected with numerous gaming companies and managed the local Twitch Atlanta Community, which makes this issue important to the gaming community (not affiliated with Twitch). He went to gaming conferences, where people of all ages gathered to celebrate their love of the game.
He wasn’t a nobody; he was a powerful figure in the gaming world. He was extremely popular in the communities he was enmeshed with, haunting places like Battle and Brew with Hi-Rez employees or interacting with gamers via Twitch and other media.
This is why this is such a serious matter, because the allegations, combined with someone who has unrestricted access to gamers of all ages, causes us to reflect on trust, which we place not only in major corporations that provide entertainment and organize meetups like EVE Fanfest and the Smite Championships, but also in influencers who are more racial in nature.
That is why, for a variety of reasons, I believe it is critical that knowledge be disseminated quickly:
- Companies should start monitoring internal procedures and records to ensure that no one is using their company for malicious purposes.
- To inform the community so that members are aware of the influencer’s activities and may take appropriate measures when interacting with them in the future.
- To make us all reflect about how much trust we put in others and how little we think about what trust entails.
Every business connected with Elvinelol acted quickly to denounce the conduct described by local news and the GBI press statement, and to recognize that he no longer represents their brand, with Hi-Rez, his current active job, going even farther to state that he is no longer employed. One exception is CCPDiscord, a purported CCP Games employee and EVE designer. On Twitter, Valkyrie wrote the following:
There isn’t such such thing, and you know it. Stop mass-tagging businesses that had nothing to do with his bizarre behavior and expecting them to return the favor. Worse, the scumbag who gets likes on stuff like this…ugh. #Worstofworst
February 5, 2019 — Claire / CCP Discord (@CCPDiscord)
First, how can we know these businesses had nothing to do with his bizarre behavior without… asking? Second, and more importantly, why was one of our workers here referred to as a “filthy git” by an alleged CCP Games employee? Third, why refer to “his freakishness” as if it were a fetish rather than a crime against children?
This scenario requires people to rally behind the notion that we put a lot of confidence in these influencers, both those who are random Twitch broadcasters and those who are the voices of corporate social media accounts, rather than the person or what he was reported to do. This should be something that encourages video game workers to sling toxicity on Twitch and marketing teams to worry about “what about our image” rather than “what can we do to enhance and elevate our community from this scenario.”
See the exchange between a Humble Bundle marketing representative and Omeed of OP Group, an influencer marketing/agency company.
This is a whole other issue. As citizens of the United States, we have a responsibility to follow due process.
Due process is not a thing for businesses that engage with individuals for promotional purposes. You make business choices based on the most practical considerations. https://t.co/YYTYLmAMND
February 5, 2019 — Omeed (@Omeed)
“I don’t want us connected with that at all,” said a Humble Bundle marketing executive, is a wonderful statement, and I don’t believe anybody would argue with that, but is it the correct question? No one thinks that just because a Wal-Mart employee was arrested for methamphetamine, Wal-Mart was also involved, particularly when there is no proof to the contrary. One might argue that Wal-Mart could have done a more thorough background check, but since nothing was found on paper, what can they do except distance themselves?
Omeed’s counsel here is cautious and correct, but is it sufficient?
Which is why, rather than worrying about the effect on a brand, I believe it’s critical that people consider if it’s time for gaming to mature and expect more from those with whom we allow our children to engage and watch online. I believe now is a good time to delve deeper and start asking game companies whether they have implemented or plan to implement internal safeguards to avoid misuse. I believe it is past time for Twitch to be challenged to do more.
What else is there?
That isn’t for me to determine, but I believe there is more that can be done than labeling someone a “dirty git” or fretting about the brand harm that a Twitter profile might do.
That is why I would want you, the reader, to think about how many individuals you watch on YouTube or Twitch and how much you know about them. Do you know how these companies safeguard your information, and if you’re a parent, how safe is your child’s data?
Problems like these won’t be addressed quickly, but we can certainly do better, and we can certainly think about them together as we try to continually improve.
Otherwise, it might be your cousin, niece, nephew, son, daughter, or best friend’s pride and joy waiting for them, rather than a police officer, when fear of brand harm leads us to overlook the implications of influencers’ power.
Let me leave you with this Tweet from Elvinelol, which is just a week old as of this writing.
One of the rising trends in the social sphere is the celebrity endorsement. We’ve all seen the ads for everything from fast food restaurants to cosmetic products. And we might have even clicked the button to visit the website of the influencer who is promoting these products. But have you ever stopped and questioned the relationship between these personalities and the products they promote? Have you ever wondered if they are even telling the truth? How much of what they say is true? How much of it you should believe? On this episode of Elvinel we’re going to be discussing the industry of celebrity endorsement and the impression we give celebrities when we blindly click “buy”.. Read more about edelman earned brand 2020 and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement
- edelman trust barometer
- edelman trust barometer 2019
- edelman brand trust 2021
- edelman trust barometer 2021