ACCC cracks down on influencers posting misleading information

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has started a sweep of social media influencers to identify misleading testimonials and endorsements.

The sweep, which will run over the coming weeks, will also examine more than 100 influencers named in over 150 tip-offs from consumers who responded to the consumer watchdog’s Facebook post asking for information.

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Chair of the ACCC, thanked the community for letting them know which influencers may not be doing the right thing.

“The number of tip-offs reflects the community concern about the ever-increasing number of manipulative marketing techniques on social media, designed to exploit or pressure consumers into purchasing goods or services.”

The ACCC team will be reviewing a range of social media platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook, with the broad aim of identifying deceptive marketing practices across the digital economy.

“With more Australians choosing to shop online, consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when making purchases, but misleading endorsements can be very harmful.”

Along with influencers, the ACCC will also consider the role of other parties such as advertisers, marketers, brands, and social media platforms in facilitating misconduct.

“Already, we are hearing some law firms and industry bodies have informed their clients about the ACCC’s sweep, and reminded them of their advertising disclosure requirements.”

The sweep is targeting sectors where influencer marketing is particularly pervasive including fashion, beauty and cosmetics, food and beverage, travel, health fitness and wellbeing, parenting, gaming, and technology.

“It is important social media influencers are clear if there are any commercial motivations behind their posts. This includes those posts that are incentivised and presented as impartial but are not. The ACCC will not hesitate to take action where we see consumers are at risk of being misled or deceived by a testimonial, and there is potential for significant harm.

“This action may include following up misconduct with compliance, education and potential enforcement activities as appropriate.”

While many consumers are aware that influencers receive a financial incentive for promoting products and services, the ACCC is concerned that influencers, brands, and advertisers try to hide this fact from consumers.

“Online markets need to function well to support the modern economy. Part of that is ensuring consumers have the confidence they need to make more informed purchasing decisions.”

The ACCC will publish the findings of this sweep once the results have been analysed.

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