In their Instagram ads, these hip, young city dwellers are overjoyed at the idea of a new transit line connecting them with neighbourhoods they've yet to visit. They're excited for new transit options and they're eager to tell you about it. That's because they're getting paid. The posts are sponsored by Metrolinx, an Ontario crown corporation, to endorse the controversial new Ontario Line, which would cut through some of Toronto's East End neighbourhoods.
The ads generated a firestorm last week, and some of them have since been taken down by the influencers. But the strategy raises a bigger question: How different is the influencer economy from traditional media when it comes to political ads? What kind of disclaimers should these ads carry? Are they working? And what comes next—for both the ads and the Ontario Line?
GUEST: Ben Spurr, transportation reporter, Toronto Star