CMA opens probe into advertising by social media ‘influencers’

Britain’s competition and consumer protection watchdog has opened an investigation into celebrity “influencers” who use social media to advertise brands and products without disclosing that they have been paid for posts.

The Competition and Markets Authority said on Thursday it had written to a range of celebrities to “gather information about their posts and the nature of the business agreements they have in place with brands”.

The watchdog said celebrities who are paid to promote brands and products, but do not make that clear, could be breaking consumer protection laws and misleading people online.

Social media celebrities, vloggers and Twitter personalities often have millions of followers and wield more influence over consumer buying habits than traditional celebrities or advertising.

“If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it,” said George Lusty, the CMA’s senior director for consumer protection. “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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