The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said that it has “started a sweep” to find misleading testimonials and endorsements by social media influencers.
The body said that it will look at 100 influencers mentioned in more than 150 tip-offs it had received via a Facebook post it created asking for information.
Most of the tip-offs, according to the ACCC, were from members of the public calling out beauty and lifestyle influencers. However, parenting and fashion influencers also caught the ire of consumers for failing to disclose their affiliation with the product or company they were promoting.
The ACCC will look at a range of social media platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. It also said the sweep would target sectors where influencer marketing is particularly widespread such as fashion, beauty and cosmetics. It would also look into influencer marketing in food and beverage, travel, health fitness and wellbeing, parenting, gaming, and technology.
The ACCC will also examine the role of advertisers, marketers, brands, and social media platforms in facilitating misconduct.
“The number of tip-offs reflects the community concern about the ever-increasing number of manipulative marketing techniques on social media, designed to exploit or pressure consumers into purchasing goods or services,” ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
“We want to thank the community for letting us know which influencers they believe might not be doing the right thing.
“Already, we are hearing some law firms and industry bodies have informed their clients about the ACCC’s sweep, and reminded them of their advertising disclosure requirements,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb added.
The ACCC said that while consumers are aware that influencers receive money for promoting products and services, it was “concerned” that influencers, advertisers and brands try to hide the fact, preventing shoppers from making informed choices.
It added that the problem is particularly acute micro influencers, as they can “build and maintain a more seemingly authentic relationship with followers” in order to “add legitimacy” to hidden advertising posts.
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