FTC Finalizes Settlement With Warner Bros. Over Secret Influencer Marketing

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A character in Warner Bros.' game 'Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.'
A character in Warner Bros.' game 'Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.' Credit: Warner Bros.

Players of Warner Bros-produced game "Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor" have more enemies than creatures like Ratbag the Meat Hoarder, like unethical "influencers."

That's according to the Federal Trade Commission, which on Monday followed a comment period by approving a final consent order in its settlement with Warner Bros. over alleged influencer marketing that wasn't disclosed as paid.

The FTC said Warner Bros. deceived consumers by failing to tell consumers that it had paid so-called influencers to promote the game. According to the agency, the firm spent thousands of dollars to pay people to post positive videos on YouTube and other social media sites, posts that should have been labeled as sponsored but were not. The videos were viewed more than 5.5 million times.

According to an FTC statement:

"The FTC also alleged Warner Bros. gave influencers a free advance-release version of the game and told them how to promote it. Warner Bros. also allegedly required the influencers to promote the game in a positive way and not to disclose any bugs or glitches they found."

According to the agreement with the FTC, Warner Bros. must disclose payments to influencers in the future and cannot misrepresent that sponsored content is unbiased and objective opinion.

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