France parliament seeks to regulate ‘jungle’ of social media influencers

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The upper house Senate of France’s parliament was Thursday due to pass a law that will better regulate social media influencers by limiting and regulating their ability to endorse products and encourage betting.

The lower house National Assembly late on Wednesday gave its green light to the bill which has wide-cross party support -- highly unusual in France’s current tense political climate -- after being proposed by deputies from the Socialist Party and President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance faction.

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The Senate, dominated by the right, is expected to give its blessing in a vote on Thursday afternoon.

“The law of the jungle is over,” said Arthur Delaporte of the Socialist Party who jointly put the bill forward with Stephane Vojetta of Renaissance who said the text will “protect consumers, especially the youngest ones.”

Many influencers have a modest audience, but some stars with millions of subscribers can influence consumer behavior, especially among young people.

The bill intends to enshrine the status of influencers as legal entities who use their fame to promote products and services.

It prohibits the promotion of certain practices -- such as cosmetic surgery -- and prohibits or strongly regulates the promotion of several medical devices.

It also targets sports betting and games of chance. Influencers will no longer be able to promote subscriptions to sports forecast services, and the promotion of games of chance will be restricted to platforms that have the capacity to prohibit access to minors.

Violators could face punishments of up to two years in prison and 300,000 euro ($321,000) fines.

At the end of March, the Union of Influencers and Content Creators, set up recently to represent players in the sector, had welcomed “commendable and essential proposals.” But it warned parliamentarians against the risk of “discriminating against or over-regulating” certain players.

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