At this point in time, we all have some sort of social media in our lives. And no matter which platform you favor, you surely see influencers working with brands to raise awareness about different things. Whether it's a product launch or bringing our attention to a specific cause this has been a great way for advertisers to connect with people in a much more personal way. However, a recent campaign caused quite a bit of controversy.
Over the past few weeks, there were parent influencer's on Instagram who were paid to promote a Walgreens campaign to get the flu vaccine. Seems simple enough, right? Very wrong, apparently. BuzzFeed News shared that instead, their sponsored content became the target of relentless harassment from the online anti-vaccination community.
After hitting publish and uploading their photo to Instagram, the influencer's involved were almost immediately forced to disable comments. However, not quickly enough, as most of them were flooded with threatening messages in their DMs.
"There were comments talking about how we don't deserve children or that we might as well just kill our children," said parents Bryce and Jeffrey, whose Instagram account is @thisiswherewestarted. "Being a same-sex couple, we are used to people leaving mean comments while hiding behind their keyboard," they said. "We were shocked at the level of comments we received."
The hashtag associated with his specific campaign, #WalgreensFluFighter, has at this point been pretty much infiltrated by anti-vaxx posts instead of raising awareness for getting the flu shot.
One anti-vaxxer, @Talialikeitis, commented on twitter saying, "if you’re a celebrity OR a pro vax mom with a huge following on social media you can go ahead and give medical advice AND be compensated for it. Are people really THAT dense that they can’t see the hypocrisy in all of this? #walgreensFluFighter #walgreens#tacky #inFLUencer
The same twitter account leaked an email that allegedly came from Wallgreens, offering these Instagram accounts between $200 to $400 for being a part of this campaign.
Let's be real here though: every single one of these influencers has the right to choose what to post to their accounts and accept money in exchange for being a part of a campaign.
Laura, the owner of the account @frugalforluxury and an Orlando mom of three young kids with more than 30,000 followers , told BuzzFeed News she received $200 for the sponsored content. Sharing her opinions on what happened she said, "Advising people where to go for those wanting a flu shot is not giving medical advice," she told BuzzFeed News. "One anti-vaxxer commented that doctors know very little and have little training, which was very laughable to me."
"Obviously, like everything else, there can be side effects, but my family and I personally choose to get the flu vaccine because it has proven to work for us each year, and thankfully none of us have ever had side effects from the vaccine," she added.