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Study Reveals That YouTube Influencers Rarely Disclose Their Marketing Relationships

In addition, they are working on computational methods to detect other types of hidden advertising on social media, including sponsored content and product giveaways, which are less straightforward to identify than affiliate marketing

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YouTube criticised on Twitter for lifting Christmas holiday video. Pixabay

Even as social media has started playing a very significant role in our decisions, many people who create content to promote products on popular platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest do not always disclose their marketing relationships with the companies, reveals new research.

The study focused on affiliate marketing, in which companies pay a commission to social media figures for driving sales.

Content creators who produce videos, photos and commentary are rewarded when their followers purchase products after clicking on affiliate marketing links included in their social media posts.

Researchers from Princeton University’s Department of Computer Science extracted affiliate marketing links from randomly drawn samples of about 500,000 YouTube videos and 2.1 million Pinterest pins.

They found 3,472 YouTube videos and 18,237 Pinterest pins with affiliate links from 33 marketing companies.

The researchers found the links by identifying characteristic patterns in the URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) that marketers use to track readers’ clicks.

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YouTube music will separate the movies and music section on the platform. Pixabay

They then used natural language processing techniques to search for disclosures of affiliate marketing relationships within the ‘videos’ and ‘pins’ descriptions.

Disclosures were present in around just 10 per cent and seven per cent of affiliate marketing content on YouTube and Pinterest, respectively.

These findings were published in the journal, ‘Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction’.

Also Read- Apple Accused of Making False Claims About its iPhone X Series

In view of these findings, the researchers proposed that regulators should take broader legal action against affiliate marketing companies for failures to disclose, and recommend that social media platforms make it easier for content creators to disclose marketing relationships in a standardised way.

The lead author of the study, Arunesh Mathur, a computer science graduate student, and his colleagues are also developing a web browser extension that would automatically flag some types of paid content, Princeton University said in a statement.

In addition, they are working on computational methods to detect other types of hidden advertising on social media, including sponsored content and product giveaways, which are less straightforward to identify than affiliate marketing. (IANS)

Next Story

Google Disables 210 China-backed YouTube Channels

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China

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FILE - Signage is seen inside the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles, California, Oct. 21, 2015. VOA

Google has disabled 210 YouTube channels that China used to sow discord among protesters in Hong Kong.

The tech giant discovered that these YouTube accounts behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” Shane Huntley, Threat Analysis Group at Google Security said in a blog post on Thursday.

Google found use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.

“Each month, our Threat Analysis Group sends more than 4,000 warnings to our users about attempts by government-backed attackers or other illicit actors to infiltrate their accounts,” said the company.

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FILE – Silhouettes are seen in front of a Youtube logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Oct. 29, 2014. VOA

Earlier this week, as pro-democracy protests gained momentum in Hong Kong, Twitter and Facebook suspended several accounts that were part of the Chinese government’s influence campaign and targeted protest movement in Hong Kong.

Twitter said it suspended more than 200,000 accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour — including 936 accounts originating from within China.

Facebook said it removed seven Pages, three Groups and five accounts that originated in China and involved in posting fake news pertaining to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Also Read: Google Ditches Desserts, Unveils Android 10

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she was willing to create a platform for dialogue, but will not sanction an independent investigation into police actions during the political crisis that has rocked the city for almost three months. (IANS)