Social Media: Four out of five influencers violate labelling requirements

Advertising often not sufficiently labelled

Eine Frau nimmt ein Werbevideo mit dem Smartphone auf.Click to enlarge

Under European law, commercial content on social media must be labelled as advertising.

Source: / rh2010

Under European law, commercial content on social media must be labelled as advertising. The German Environment Agency (UBA) took part in an EU-wide study on this. The findings showed that advertising was only consistently labelled as such in around 20 percent of the influencer profiles examined.

UBA ⁠President Dirk Messner commented: “In recent years, influencer marketing has developed into one of the most lucrative methods in the advertising industry. Influencers with a wide reach have the power to influence the consumer behaviour of their followers through product placements. Failure to comply with the labelling requirements for advertising poses considerable risks for consumer protection. It is therefore all the more important that the authorities have recognised the relevance of this issue and are actively working towards a higher level of consumer protection in social media.”

In the EU-wide coordinated investigation, known as a sweep, the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) reviewed the social media profiles of influencers. The participating authorities and associations wanted to know whether influencer advertising on social media is sufficiently labelled as such.

The consumer protection network examined a total of 576 influencers. The review included profiles on the major platforms Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Snapchat and Twitch. Of the influencers investigated, 82 had over one million followers, 301 had between 100,000 and one million followers and 73 had between 5,000 and 100,000 followers. In terms of subject matter, the influencers reviewed are mainly active in the areas of fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food and nutrition, sport and gaming.

Almost all (97 per cent) of the influencers examined as part of the sweep regularly publish content with a commercial background on their profiles. However, only around 20 per cent of these consistently label this as advertising. Concealing the commercial purpose of an activity is considered misleading under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC. There is also some catching up to do when it comes to the mandatory provision of contact details; in 173 of the profiles reviewed, there was no adequate statement of authorship.

In Germany, the UBA⁠ coordinated participation in the sweep. This was carried out together with the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) and the Centre for Combating Unfair Competition (Wettbewerbszentrale). The offences identified will now be pursued legally; the vzbv and the Wettbewerbszentrale are taking action against domestic influencers in the form of warnings and injunctions. In the case of influencers based in other EU countries, the UBA is sending requests for administrative assistance to the responsible member states via the CPC network.

Further information:

The UBA advocates for the collective interests of consumers across borders. However, it does not enforce the individual claims of individual consumers. Rather, they benefit as a community from the fact that abuses and violations by companies operating throughout Europe are uncovered and remedied.

The sweep is not a representative study of the entire influencer industry. However, the coordinated investigations are helping to improve Europe-wide compliance with consumer law and identify offences against collective consumer interests.

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 Social Media  Influencers  advertising  Sweep