Instagram agrees to crack down on hidden ads by paid influencers, says UK watchdog

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority opened its investigation in 2018, seeking to have adverts clearly labeled to avoid people being misled. (File photo)

Facebook’s Instagram has agreed measures to crack down on hidden advertising by paid so-called influencers on its photo and video platform, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Friday.

Influencers with thousands of followers can earn large fees from companies to promotes a product on Instagram.

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In what the CMA described as an important behavior shift by a major social media platform, Facebook Ireland, which operates Instagram in Britain, has committed to a package of changes.

Facebook has committed to this “important behavior shift following an investigation by the CMA, the regulator said. “This will make it much harder for people to post an advert on Instagram without labelling it as such.”

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The watchdog said it has been investigating concerns that too many influencers are posting content about businesses without making it clear they have been paid or received other incentives to do so.

Influencers will have to confirm and disclose if they have received any incentives to promote a product or service.

Instagram will also use technology to spot when users might not have disclosed clearly that a post is an advertisement, the CMA said.

The CMA opened its investigation in 2018, seeking to have adverts clearly labeled to avoid people being misled.

Last year, 16 celebrities pledged to clean up their act on social media after CMA action, the watchdog said. A group of British celebrities, such as Ellie Goulding and models including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Alexa Chung, agreed to tell shoppers upfront if they are being paid for social media posts.

Failing to label posts properly may lead followers to believe that an endorsement is a star’s own view and to trust a product recommended by someone they admire, the CMA has said previously.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Instagram will have to regularly update the CMA on its progress. The regulator said it will continue to investigate the practices of other social media platforms and push for changes where needed.

The changes will affect users in the UK and anyone directing posts toward Instagram users in the country.

The regulator said it will continue to investigate the practices of other social media platforms and push for changes where needed.

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Last Update: Friday, 16 October 2020 KSA 15:55 - GMT 12:55
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