Celebrities and influencers investigated for failing to clearly label paid-for social media posts

Alice Sholl
The law requires celebrities and influencers to mark paid-for ads clearly [Photo: Pexels]

Scroll down your Instagram feed, and how many celebrities do you see?

Next, how many of those posts feature those said celebrities holding beauty product bottles or zoomed into their latest hair extensions, while offering 20% off?

And how many of these are marked with an #ad hashtag?

Celebrities have been paid to promote products for a long time now, and for years, they’ve been legally obliged to mark anything they’ve been paid or rewarded to post clearly – for example with an #ad or #spon (short for ‘sponsored’) hashtag.

But not all of them are complying.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found celebrities promoting products without clearly marking they’ve been paid to do so, but also giving their “opinions” on products or services without the same clarification.

As a result, the CMA has launched an investigation into the matter.

It’s warned that failures to label such posts properly means that “fans or followers may be led to believe that an endorsement represents the star’s own view, rather than a paid-for promotion”.

As a result, fans will probably trust the product more than if they’d known the influencer had been paid to promote it.

So, with the aim of figuring out how clearly influencers are marking commercial relationships and whether fans are being misled, the CMA has written to celebrities and influencers to get more information about their posts.

George Lusty, the CMA’s Senior Director for Consumer Protection, said:

“Social media stars can have a big influence on what their followers do and buy.

“If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it.

“So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.”

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