With increased scrutiny on "influencer culture"—the phenomenon of social media stars providing endorsements for all kinds of products, events and services—there is the potential for government regulators to crack down if and when the trend enters the political arena. So says Roberto Cavazos, Executive in Residence in the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business and a veteran economic analyst with extensive experience in financial, data and health care fraud.
Over the past year, Prof. Cavazos has been taking the pulse of social media's impact on marketing, business, the news for over a year, working on research with Israeli cybersecurity firm Cheq. Now, he is part of a growing chorus expressing concern that influencers could do lasting harm to the process of political campaigns and issues management—or even democracy itself.
Quoted in Morning Consult, Prof. Cavazos says that recent developments in political advertising and campaign marketing suggest that a reckoning is in the works—something he calls a "forcing event" that prompts government regulators to put limits on influencers.
"Imagine a scenario where some community has some issue, and they have social influencers, and one gets angry at somebody and all of a sudden they're producing deepfakes or they're becoming malicious. Those kinds of things are going to be the "wake-up call" for change, he says.
In the wake of Twitter's ban on political ads, and Facebook's ongoing controversies regarding inaccuracies in paid political content, the core issue clearly has lawmakers and regulators on edge, Cavazos says. The 2020 election could be the event that sparks a regulatory firestorm.
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