Influencers need to indicate when they will be paid to advertise
Instagram has promised to tackle hidden advertisements on its website after a UK agency warned that influencers are routinely breaking the law.
The move follows an investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority which found influencers often posting content illegally without making it clear that they were paid or otherwise motivated to post it.
“For too long, large platforms have shied away from taking responsibility for hidden advertising on their website,” said Andrea Coscelli, Managing Director of the CMA. “This commitment to tackling hidden ads and reworking the way people post on Instagram, making it harder for users to ignore the law, is a welcome step forward.”
Instagram, owned by Facebook, has committed to taking various measures to ensure that paid content becomes more transparent. This includes asking users to confirm whether they have been paid to promote a product or service and extending the Paid Partnership tool to all users.
Instagram has also promised to “implement technology and algorithms to help identify when users may not have clearly disclosed that their post is an ad.”
“These changes mean there is no excuse for companies to overlook how their brands are being advertised – making life a lot harder for those who are not open and honest with their followers,” added Coscelli.
Against the law
Influencers who advertise without declaring they will be paid are against UK law. The 2008 Consumer Unfair Trading Rules make it illegal to falsely represent yourself as a consumer or create the impression that what you do is not part of your business or profession.
The CMA stresses that Instagram itself has not been found guilty of violating consumer law as it would have to be ruled by the courts.
The new rules apply to anyone using Instagram in the UK and anyone targeting UK users of the app, even if they are based abroad.
Over the past year, the CMA received “formal commitments” from 16 celebrities who failed to declare that they were paid to create social media posts or received gifts. These included model Alexa Chung, actress Michelle Keegan and singer Rita Ora.