The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into concerns that social media influencers are not properly declaring whether they have been paid or otherwise recompensed to endorse goods or services.
The CMA has written to a range of social media influencers and celebrities to gather more information about their posts and the nature of the arrangements they have with brands. It is looking into how commercial relationships are displayed and whether people may be misled.
George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA, said: “Social media stars can have a big influence on what their followers do and buy.
“If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or a 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.”
The CMA can take enforcement action if it finds practices that break consumer protection law. It is asking the public to share experiences to help its investigation too.
The work follows on from a previous investigation in 2016 during which the CMA looked into online reviews and endorsements. As part of that work, the CMA accepted undertakings from four companies to ensure that online advertising is clearly labelled or otherwise identified so that it is distinguishable from the opinions of bloggers or journalists. The CMA expects to provide an update on the latest investigation at the end of this year.