Native Advertising & Fake News

Recently I came across the term “native advertising,” a terminology that was new to me. But apparently the leading social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yahoo) are all doing it.

Basically, native advertising refers to paid advertisements that are embedded in an organization’s webpage (hence ‘native’).  This is particularly troubling when the webpage belongs to the traditional news media like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Because for the unsuspected readers, that line between real and fake news has been intentionally blurred.

Sure, the native ads are usually labeled as paid, sponsored, or promoted content as suggested by the Federal Trade Commission.  But believe me, these labels are indistinct, mistakable, or  easy to miss all together.  Imaging what would happen if you had missed the labels or worse yet no labels at all.  A borderline unethical practice seems to me.

The obvious question is why  would the news media do it? Don’t they care about their reputation?  Why would they risk of misleading their audience?  And the unfortunate answer is money. Pure and simple. Making money at the expense of liquidating their readers’ trust.

What do you think about native advertising?

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