Social media platforms must ramp up the pressure on influencers to label advertisements clearly and abide by consumer protection law, a local TD has said.
Fine Gael Spokesperson on Social Media, Deputy Emer Higgins, referenced a startling report from The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) which revealed that almost 50% of the content they reviewed was incorrectly labelled.
Deputy Higgins said: “This report highlights the undeniable scale of the issue. A staggering 66% of survey respondents shared that they purchased a product due to influencer speaking about this product. 24% of this group said they felt misled about this decision.
“This story is much deeper than disregarding advertising standards. Mislabelled products can have a seriously damaging effect on young people, particularly women and girls.
“The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland offers an abundance of guidelines and tips for any social media influencer who is unclear of the rules. We must push for additional requirements and harsher consequences from our social media platforms.
“Without a label, it’s impossible to know whether the product has undergone a thorough review and testing process,” added Deputy Higgins.
“I want to see our big social media players step up and work with our advertising partners to ensure influencers are met with strict instructions and continuous monitoring. Fundamental to compliance is a simple reporting process for users.”
The CCPC noted a particular concern surrounding the promotion of financial products such as cryptocurrency.
Deputy Higgins added: “Earlier this year, I called for an information campaign on cryptocurrency and related scams.
“People should bear in mind that virtual currencies are unregulated and as such are high risk anyway. If something goes wrong the consumer has no protections to fall back on and cannot access support from the Financial Services Ombudsman.
“Christmas is just around the corner and with consumers spending more than they normally would, it’s pivotal they are aware of incorrect labelling of products on social media.
“Influencers are often familiar and friendly faces on our social media feeds but it’s important to keep in mind that when they are paid to post about a product it’s no different than an ad in a newspaper or magazine and legally has to be labelled as such,” concluded Deputy Higgins.