The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating the disclosure of paid for endorsements on social media platforms.
Update on enforcement action
Undertakings from Facebook Ireland Limited
16 October 2020: Facebook Ireland Limited (Facebook) has committed to the CMA that it will do more to prevent hidden advertising being posted on its Instagram platform. The CMA has been investigating Instagram due to concerns that it was not doing enough under UK consumer protection law to prevent its users from endorsing businesses without making it clear that they had been paid or given free gifts to do so.
Hidden advertising is illegal in the UK. By the end of this year, anyone attempting to endorse a business on Instagram will be prompted to confirm before posting if it appears they have been offered an incentive. If they have, they will not be able to publish their post until they have included a clear disclosure.
Instagram will also be implementing technology designed to help it identify posts containing adverts that have not been clearly and prominently disclosed. By next summer, Instagram will report users posting suspected unlabelled content to the businesses whose products they are endorsing. Those businesses will then be able to take appropriate action swiftly, including asking Instagram to remove posts.
Instagram will also make it easier for businesses to increase their own compliance with UK law by enabling them to detect posts which promote them or their products so that they can check lawful disclosures have been made.
The CMA will continue investigating the practices of other social media platforms to ensure that changes are made where necessary.
- Undertakings from Facebook Ireland Limited (16.10.20)
- Press notice: Instagram to tackle hidden advertising after CMA action (16.10.20)
23 January 2019: 16 influencers have provided undertakings to improve disclosures in their social media posts to make it clear when they have been paid or otherwise incentivised to endorse a product or service. The term ‘influencer’ refers to bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and social media personalities. A summary of the undertakings can be found below.
The CMA opened its investigation into concerns that certain influencers were not clearly disclosing when they had been paid or incentivised to promote goods or services.
The CMA has also published a compliance summary for influencers to ensure that they are aware of consumer protection law. This guide is also relevant to brands, marketing agents, intermediaries and all involved in the supply chain.
Results from a CMA questionnaire found that social media endorsements influence people’s buying decisions – people often look to social media channels for opinions and reviews on products and services before making a purchase.
Audiences need to know when an influencer has been paid, incentivised or in any way rewarded to endorse, promote, or review a product or service, including whether a product or service was given or loaned to them for free.
The CMA is now considering the role that platforms may play.
- Summary of undertakings (23.1.19)
- Social media endorsements: guide for influencers (23.1.19)
- Online questionnaire results (23.1.19)
- An influencer’s guide to making clear that ads are ads (21.2.20)
- Press release: Celebrities pledge to clean up their act on social media (23.1.19)
16 August 2018: The CMA has launched a consumer enforcement investigation into concerns that social media stars may not be declaring when they have been paid, or rewarded, to endorse goods or services.
Where celebrities and other social media influencers are paid or otherwise rewarded to promote, review or talk about a product, service or experience in their posts, consumer law requires that this must be made clear to people.
The CMA’s investigation is considering the extent to which celebrities and influencers are clearly and accurately identifying any commercial relationships with brands featured in their posts, and whether people may be being misled.
The investigation is being carried out under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 in respect of potential breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
CMA expect to provide an update by the end of 2018.
- Press Release: Celebrities and social media stars investigated for not labelling posts (16.8.18)
People can tell the CMA about their experiences by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information provided will assist the CMA’s understanding of reviews and endorsements on social media platforms. Please note that the CMA will not intervene in individual disputes and cannot enter into correspondence with you.
Pauline Goodship (email@example.com)
Assistant Project Director
Nirav Shah (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Senior Responsible Officer
George Lusty (email@example.com)
16 October 2020 – Undertakings from Facebook Ireland Limited published.
22 January 2019 – Page updated to reflect that the CMA will publish the outcomes of its investigation into social media endorsements on Wednesday 23 January 2019.
16 August 2018 – First published.
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