Name piper-payers who may be calling the tune1 min read . Updated: 23 Jan 2023, 11:09 PM IST
India’s new rules for online influencers that require them to disclose sponsors upfront are welcome. We must all get a lot more discerning to resist various forms of hidden persuasion
In the internet age, being “under the influence" is not short-hand for drunk driving, but for having one’s perceptions and beliefs altered by online persuaders. This can happen in ways that range from casual to insidious. It could be a seemingly stray comment on what’s fashionable this season, advice on investment involving the use of a particular platform to snap up shares, or even an update on the Ukraine war that ascribes blame Westwards but we don’t suspect is part of a sneaky campaign run by a foreign state. If we were informed upfront of the interests that lie behind the screen, our gullibility would be far harder to exploit, as we’ll use that knowledge as a filter for what we’re being fed. This explains India’s crackdown on online influencers. On Friday, the government invoked the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 to issue guidelines on public disclosure by those who not only have audiences whose spending they can influence, but also sponsors that may determine or shape how they wield their charm. New rules that empower people this way, with information, are welcome. The more we know about who pays the piper, the better. Achieving a country of netizens who can discern the tunes being called, though, might prove to be a long haul.
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