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Sponsored by FTX — Why Influencer Accountability Matters

Cointime Staff· 3 min read

By Wasif M Rahman

What do the following influencers all have in common?

Andrei Jikh

Graham Stephan

Coin Beureau

Max Maher

All these influencers promoted FTX and now their audience has lost massive sums of money investing in crypto.

Before jumping into Web 3, I spent 5 years working in the influencer marketing industry. The one thing I learned in that space is that almost every influencer has a price.

As I watched the FTX debacle play out, I wondered about the parasocial relationship that forms a sense of trust between the audience and the influencer.

There is some nuance to parse through here so bear with my internal monologue for a second.

Did these creators feel any real sense of guilt for promoting FTX?

I watched the apology videos and while the creators looked remorseful on camera, I can’t help but think the apologies are intended as a form of damage control more than a genuine sense of regret. After all, these influencers made a killing on their brand deals and are not materially impacted by the losses their audiences suffered from the FTX fallout.

Was it morally compromising to work with FTX?

While hindsight is 20/20, at the time of taking on the sponsorship, I don’t think any of these influencers found it to be morally compromising to work with a seemingly buttoned-up brand like FTX.

What about due diligence?

It’s difficult for an influencer to do the necessary due diligence on a massive firm like FTX, however, it should be incumbent for “Financial Education Influencers” in particular to really vet their sponsors.

That said, no one could have predicted that FTX could implode the way it had.

Really? How many crypto firms have imploded this year alone?

The collapse of Terra-Luna brought about the 2022 crypto winter. As the dominoes began to fall, crypto exchanges like Celcius and Vauld imploded overnight. 3AC fell from grace as it was revealed to be nothing more than a degen staking firm.

Given what was already happening in the Web 3 space, perhaps influencers should have steered clear of sponsorships from any institution where their audience could invest in crypto. After all, there is always the chance for an implosion and without adequate consumer protections in place, people can lose their life savings without recourse.

Influencer accountability matters and apology videos won’t make up for lost life savings.

I changed my entire career track this year to go from the influencer industry to Web 3. Seeing how things have played out, I now have some regrets. I have considered going back to the world of influencer marketing but considering the lack of accountability in that space, I am not sure it’s the right place for me either.

My thoughts are with all the people impacted by this whole situation. Take care of yourselves and your mental health. There is more to life than money.


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