How often do you find yourself searching for reviews from bloggers’ social media platform? Social media is gaining popularity each day and it would be more surprising to know that one is not using instead. I personally follow many bloggers and review accounts on Instagram and they are basically my source of information in regards to knowing about new products, cafes, restaurants and activities. Bloggers review were always trusted more than advertisements as they were supposed to be their honest opinions while advertisements are mostly exaggerated specifications of each products. Bloggers tend to use a less formal tone in their reviews and post too, it helps the consumer to feel like they could relate better as compared to advertisements, thus more companies are resorting to engaging bloggers to help them “advertise”, in hopes of gaining more awareness for their products and services.
There was a pretty big issue regarding masking of adverts on social media last year. A social media management, Gushcloud, was exposed of their unethical practices, where they made their bloggers to fake their advertisements as reviews and inflated their views and followers on their social media sites. 
From a consumer perspective, it is highly astonishing to know the works behind a bloggers’ blog post, Instagram post and Facebook mention etc. From these entire exposé, we learn that Gushclouds’ influencers’ post are all fake and paid for, instead of being an honest review, where they were supposedly to have stumbled upon the stated product and services.
Astrosurfing – or masking ads. It’s dishonest for a blogger to pretend that something they are paid for to advertise was their honest true opinion when it isn’t. It’s cheating the consumer.
As a consumer who is constantly out there searching for reviews on products before I actually purchase them, all these information has now got me into thinking twice about what I am reading from all these bloggers. Advertisements are mostly made of exaggerated truths of a certain products, which has lead many to switch to blogger reviews. However, if bloggers are now being paid to do reviews, it would defeat the entire point of it being a review.
Masking of advertisement is not illegal here in Singapore, but it is definitely unethical as you are lying to your readers and followers. Would you feel good about yourself for lying to all your loyal followers? Reviews are meant to be honest opinions from someone who has used the product or received the service. Being paid is not a shameful thing, but hiding the fact that you were paid to write a review on how you stumbled on the product and service is. Like in the video, “Bottomline, don’t pay for reviews and use original content.”
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Adam Bienkov. 2012. Astroturfing: what is it and why does it matter? [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/08/what-is-astroturfing [Accessed on 9 November 2015].