George Takei: pushing publishers' articles for (undisclosed) cash

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

One of the more interesting things to have emerged from the allegations of sexual harassment against actor, Star Trek alum and social media star George Takei is the fact that his social media presence (run by a team, and not him personally) is a business enterprise, being heavily supported by publishers:

As of Tuesday, Slate, Upworthy, GOOD, Futurism, Refinery29 and Mic have made arrangements to no longer have their articles and videos shared on Takei’s Facebook page, the companies confirmed.

And Takei hasn’t been sharing those articles from the goodness of his heart:

Publishers that rely on social media as a distribution tool might pay to have their articles and videos shared by well-known figures or Facebook pages that have large, loyal followings. Publishers usually make arrangements with companies that coordinate across so-called “influencer networks” to get content shared.

There’s a real lack of transparency here: I wonder how many of Takei’s fans (over 10million of them, including 52 of my friends…) were aware that he was being paid for promoting articles? And how aware are you at how dependent the big, socially-focused sites have become on buying “influencer” traffic from people like him, via these networks?

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.