Is this against any rules? Probably not.
Is it questionable marketing technique? Definitely.
Does it happen everyday? You bet!
Being a stock photographer, or a photographer in general, I want my images to provoke action. I want people to stand up and say, "I want to buy that widget!" or "I can't believe how the lack of environmental laws in third world countries is turning them into dumping grounds for the American Industries trying to escape the economic responsibility that comes along with the green laws in our own country. Something HAS to be done!"
But, what I hope my images DON'T do is cause people to be pressured into buying or acting in a way that would be harmful to themselves based on half truths and manipulation. I would hope that they wouldn't rush right out and buy the latest greatest thing because my image, or my image as part of a design, urged them to. I would hope that the people seeing my images and the designs created by using my images would be intelligent enough to be stirred to find out more. To do further research. To make an informed decision.
I can't control any of this. I can't control what designers use my images for or how they are represented, as long as they are within the usage agreement. I can't control how people think or act. All I can do is my own part to continue to be educated. To act based on a broad knowledge base and to work to help people realize that knowledge is gained through education. Education promotes understanding and understanding, tolerance. With tolerance we can bring about peace. Isn't that what we all hope for in our Utopian dreams and musings?