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YouTube star TotalBiscuit pledges 'full disclosure' amid ethics debate

Online personalities admit to taking pay; "We should be pushing for transparency"

A renowned YouTube personality, whose channel has amassed more than 1.7 million subscribers, has pledged to "clearly disclose" promotional videos in the future.

UK games presenter John Bain, better known by his online handle TotalBiscuit, issued the statement amid a sprawling debate on the ethics of YouTube video game shows.

"From now on we'll be clearly disclosing promotional videos in a splash screen at the start of the video," Bain wrote on Twitter.

TotalBiscuit has put disclaimers in the description fields of previous videos, though the new policy means he will now add the messaging to the footage as well.

"If the audience trusts you, you should also be able to trust them."

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TotalBiscuit has more than 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube

The pledge comes in the wake of an illuminating study which showed that nearly a dozen YouTube stars have admitted to accepting money from game publishers or developers in exchange for covering their games.

At the same time, the YouTube network Yogscast triggered complaints after it announced a new promotion wherein it will promote certain games in exchange for a cut of sales.

It is feared that such promotional videos, especially when not given full disclosure, will blur the line between editorial and advertisement.

Mark Turpin, the chief executive of Yogscast, defended the policy via an open letter published on Reddit.

"We are not journalists and we do not provide reviews or opinions on games," he wrote.

"However we feel it's worth clarifying that we wouldn't ever give 'positive opinions' on a game in return for any form of remuneration."

The debate over YouTube payments has intensified in recent months. In January, the prominent online personality Boogie2988 claimed that undisclosed agreements with game marketing divisions are "commonplace".

In recent years, YouTubers have established themselves as key components in games media and PR matters. Yet the nature of their work is not typically underpinned by a traditional journalist code of ethics framework.

TotalBiscuit believes that YouTube promotional videos will not cease, but adds that disclosures in a video's description text is not sufficient.

"The main problem with disclosing in descriptions is embedded videos don't have them, neither do certain apps," he wrote.

"The reality is, promo videos are going to happen and they cannot be stopped. We should be pushing for transparency and disclosure."



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