Social media celebrities pledge to label ads clearly
A number of influencers with millions of followers each have formally agreed to change the way they label ads across their platforms, in response to an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Influencers can charge enormous fees to endorse products across platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, but many risk breaching consumer protection law by failing to disclose that they have been paid or incentivised for their stamp of approval.
"Influencers can have a huge impact on what their fans decide to buy. People could, quite rightly, feel misled if what they thought was a recommendation from someone they admired turns out to be a marketing ploy," said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
"You should be able to tell as soon as you look at a post if there is some form of payment or reward involved, so you can decide whether something is really worth spending your hard-earned money on."
The CMA began its investigation in August 2018, working with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to assess whether influencers were being transparent about paid-for endorsements.
Sixteen influencers have now promised to take action, including fashion designer Alexa Chung, musician Ellie Goulding, actress Michelle Keegan, and reality tv star Megan McKenna. The CMA is yet to confirm whether any of these influencers have violated consumer protection laws in the past.
The CMA hopes that this will "send a clear message" to all influencers, brands and businesses, Coscelli added. Warning letters have been sent to a number of other celebrities, urging them to review their practices where some concerns have been identified.
The regulatory body also plans to conduct further investigation into the role and responsibilities of social media platforms.