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

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

#Ad Nothing ever stopped me from being me until #morningsickness. You know how sick I was while pregnant; I could barely get out of bed. That was before I found a safe & effective med to treat my morning sickness when diet & lifestyle changes didn’t help. I hear there’s a new formulation of the drug combination I took that’s made to work faster & longer. If you’re pregnant & feeling sick & changing your diet & lifestyle doesn’t work, ask your doctor about Bonjesta® (doxylamine succinate/pyridoxine HCl). Most common side effect is drowsiness. Bonjesta.com for safety info. For U.S. residents only. INDICATION Bonjesta® is a prescription medicine to treat nausea & vomiting of pregnancy in women who haven’t improved with change in diet/other non-medicine treatments. Bonjesta® hasn’t been studied in children under 18. LIMITATIONS OF USE It isn’t known if Bonjesta® is safe & effective in women with severe nausea & vomiting of pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum). Women with this condition may need to be hospitalized. SELECT SAFETY INFORMATION Don’t take Bonjesta® if you’re allergic to doxylamine succinate, other ethanolamine derivative antihistamines, pyridoxine hydrochloride or any ingredients in Bonjesta®. See Patient Information leaflet for complete list of ingredients. Don’t take Bonjesta® in combination with medicines called MAOIs, as these medicines can intensify & prolong adverse central nervous system (CNS) effects of Bonjesta®. Ask your healthcare provider/pharmacist if you aren’t sure if you take an MAOI. The most common side effect of Bonjesta® is drowsiness. Don’t drive, operate heavy machinery or do other activities that need your full attention unless your healthcare provider says you can. Don’t drink alcohol, or take other CNS depressants such as cough & cold medicines, certain pain medicines & medicines that help you sleep while taking Bonjesta®. Severe drowsiness can happen or become worse causing falls/accidents. Bonjesta® may result in false positive urine drug screening for methadone, opiates and PCP. Duchesnay USA encourages you to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Jun 20, 2018 at 9:00am PDT

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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