Australia regulator to probe social media influencers for false endorsements

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FILE PHOTO: Facebook and TikTok apps are seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s competition regulator said on Friday it would check whether influencers on social media platforms had failed to disclose their affiliation with the brands they were promoting.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it would look at more than 100 influencers after several consumers informed the regulator about some endorsements and testimonials which they said were misleading.

“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,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said in a statement.

As part of the sweep, ACCC has begun reviewing Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, Snap Inc’s Snapchat, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and Amazon.com Inc’s streaming service Twitch, Cass-Gottlieb said.

The probe will target influencers in fashion, cosmetics, food and beverage, travel, fitness, parenting, gaming and technology. It will also check if advertisers, marketers, brands and social media platforms are facilitating any misconduct.

Individuals who breach Australian consumer laws could be fined up to A$2.5 million ($1.78 million).

The ACCC has been conducting a series of investigations as part of a broader Digital Platform Services Inquiry, focused on the provision of social media services, including sponsored posts and influencer advertising on social media platforms. It is expected to submit its sixth interim report by March 31.

($1 = 1.4053 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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