British Competition and Markets Authority (Competition and Markets Authority) has launched an investigation into celebrities and social media stars who do not disclose when they get paid to promote brands on platforms like Instagram or YouTube.
The government agency said it had already asked a number of internet stars for information about their posts and the nature of the deals they strike with brands selling everything from travel to makeup.
Those contacted may be in breach of UK consumer laws and, if they do not comply, may be taken to court.
The Competition and Markets Authority plans to name participants in the investigation before the end of the year. They are known to be well-known individuals and have a large following online.
Social media celebrities have in the past fallen foul of advertising rules, which require them to clearly label their posts as ads if they are getting paid to promote goods and services.
Currently, the Competition and Markets Authority is not speaking to social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube about whether they are doing enough to limit misclassified advertising. However, their research can be expanded based on their conclusions.
“If people see that clothes, cosmetics, a car or a holiday is being worn by someone they admire, they may be induced to buy it,” said George Lusty, senior director of the Competition and Markets Authority for Consumer Protection.
“Therefore, it is very important that they are clearly told whether a celebrity is endorsing a product because they bought it themselves, or because the brand paid them or thanked them in some way.”
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