As social media continues to play a significant role in advertising and endorsements, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking action to ensure influencers are following the law. The consumer watchdog has received over 150 tip-offs about influencers who have reportedly failed to disclose sponsored content and is now actively investigating more than 100 social media influencers.
The ACCC’s sweep will focus on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, with a particular emphasis on sectors like fashion, beauty, travel, health, and fitness where influencer marketing is prevalent. Influencers who post misleading reviews without disclosing their relationship with a brand or product could be in violation of the Australian consumer law, which carries penalties of up to $2.5 million for individuals.
“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,” said ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb.
As more and more people turn to online shopping, consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when making purchases. Misleading endorsements can be very harmful, and the ACCC will not hesitate to take action if consumers are at risk of being misled or deceived by a testimonial. This action may include compliance, education and potential enforcement activities as appropriate.
It’s not just consumers who are calling out influencers for not disclosing sponsored content. With the potential for penalties, some influencers may be motivated to report their peers to the ACCC in order to level the playing field. As the ACCC continues its sweep, it’s important for influencers to not only be aware of their legal obligations, but also to be transparent with their followers and disclose sponsored content properly to avoid penalties and potential reports from their peers. The Influencer industry is a competitive one, and it’s important for influencers to protect their own reputation and credibility by following the rules and guidelines set by the ACCC.
While the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO) has stated that most of the industry is aware of their obligations, some influencers and brands may still lack education on the subject. As the ACCC continues its sweep, it’s important for influencers and brands to be aware of their legal obligations and to disclose sponsored content properly to avoid penalties.