Lessons from FTX bankruptcy & celebrity influencer lawsuit
Holding influencers accountable, dark money, American history, and modern romance
A few weeks ago, FTX, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, filed for bankruptcy with billions of dollars completely missing from their ledgers. (A quick IG reel that summarizes this) Haughty investors failed to conduct proper due diligence and increased the valuation beyond its honest value, scamming investors and consumers alike. Corrupt leadership purchased homes for advisors and employees with company money.
But what was fascinating coming out of this debacle was the lawsuit targeting influencers endorsing FTX, including Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, Naomi Osaka, Shaquille O’Neil, Shohei Ohtani, Larry David, and Kevin O’Leary.
I’ve written about the rise of influencers stemming from our innate desire to stay connected while technology advances in automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Brands love putting a relatable face on their products, and influencers love financial kickbacks for their image and niche communities. Influencer marketing continues to grow each year, with 33% increase from 2020.
Market growth has also afforded power to influencers. Major beauty influencers dictate product lines for top-shelf beauty brands, top social media personalities influence new features on their respective platforms, and influencers are regularly invited to the White House for special briefings. With each follow and like, we empower voices on the other end of the screen to make decisions that impact the society around us.
This lucrative industry has given rise to unethical partnerships, including empowering brands like FTX, luring unsuspecting followers toward financial loss within crypto. Glittery drag queens and beauty influencers continue to bolster predatorial financial products, such as “buy now, pay later” brands Afterpay and Klarna, driving our younger generation into debt (43% Gen Z missing payments).
As brands are being litigated against, I predict influencer litigation will also continue to rise. While litigation is one way of holding harm accountable, we must also pay more attention to ethical decisions and partnerships, so that we may uplift those with a better interest in our communities and collective society.
Unfortunately, none of the major influencers from the FTX lawsuit have taken accountability for their collaboration just yet, but more should be revealed as this case continues to unravel itself.
What brands are your favorite influencers partnering with? Are they aligned with your values? Websites such as Goods Unite Us provides insight into corporate political donations.
Have they stepped away and taken accountability for partnerships with inequitable or predatorial brands? Money is a choice. We cannot create an equitable and sustainable future while empowering harmful brands. There are millions of other companies to consider.
Birds of a feather, flock together. How might we surround ourselves with more equitable brands and influencers, who will amplify other equitable brands and influencers around them?
Also in video format for this article:
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For our community
For queer Asians: Thu, Dec 8 - Yellow Glitter Sparkles
Something to read
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer explores the extremely wealthy figures in America and how they co-opted the republican right wing to do their dirty bidding. Had to sit with this book for a while to grasp its depth and revelations.
“Pundits, opponents, and disillusioned supporters would blame Obama for squandering the promise of his administration. Certainly he and his administration made their share of mistakes. But it is hard to think of another president who had to face the kind of guerrilla warfare waged against him almost as soon as he took office. A small number of people with massive resources orchestrated, manipulated, and exploited the economic unrest for their own purposes. They used tax-deductible donations to fund a movement to slash taxes on the rich and cut regulations on their own businesses. While they paid focus groups and seasoned operatives to frame these self-serving policies as matters of dire public interest, they hid their roles behind laws meant to protect the anonymity of philanthropists, leaving more folksy figures like Santelli to carry the message.”
Something to listen
Given the state of American politics, this podcast is a must-listen. Rachel Maddow’s Ultra podcast revisits the history of American extremism and violent ultra right, and the great lengths elected officials covered their tracks. It’s eerily similar to what we are observing today.
Something to watch
Alain de Botton, the founder of School of Life, provides insights about love in the modern world. Loved his take on romanticizing partners, loving compassion, and balance.
As always, thanks for reading!
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Have a beautiful day!