Bombshell report finds up to 81 percent of influencers’ social media posts are ‘potentially misleading’
- Influencers ‘potentially misleading’
- Up to 81 percent registered: ACCC
- Recommendations under the microscope
Australian social media influencers may be in breach of advertising standards after a new report found that a large number are overwhelmingly misleading their followers.
A survey by the consumer watchdog found that 81 percent of posts from more than 100 influencers since January concerned “potentially misleading recommendations and testimonials.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is considering whether the current self-regulatory system should be strengthened following the finding.
“Consumers are unable to make informed choices about purchases when endorsements and sponsorship posts are not clearly disclosed,” said ACCC President Gina Cass-Gottlieb.
In Australia, influencers must disclose whether they have accepted a brand’s products or services for free or for a fee.
But the report questioned the compliance of the vast majority of influencers.
A consumer watchdog survey found that 81 percent of posts from more than 100 influencers raised concerns since January, citing concerns about “potentially misleading recommendations and testimonials” (stock image)
“Consumers are unable to make informed choices about purchases when endorsements and sponsorship posts are not clearly disclosed,” said ACCC President Gina Cass-Gottlieb (stock image)
“Influencers have incentives not to disclose endorsement deals or to ‘over-commercialise’, as their advertising influence largely depends on their authenticity,” according to the latest Digital Platform Services Inquiry.
The ACCC launched the sweep to identify misleading testimonials and recommendations earlier this year and received more than 150 tips from consumers.
It found that even when influencers disclosed advertising, it was not clear or conspicuous, such as putting #ad or #sponsored at the bottom of long captions that consumers have to “click” to find.
The most disturbing messages came from influencers in the fashion industry, where 96 percent of messages were labeled “concerning” — with the exception of the “get ready with me” style messages.
Home and parenting (81 percent) and travel influencers (79 percent) had the second highest number of problematic posts.
In Australia, influencers are required to disclose whether they have accepted a brand’s products or services for free or for free – but the report questioned the compliance of the vast majority of influencers (stock image)
Common examples include influencers tagging brands in posts, product placement in photos or videos, vague disclosures (such as thanking brands), and using discount codes or referral links.
The rise of “kidfluencers” — children appearing in content controlled by their parents — and the privacy risks associated with such posts were also cited as a concern in the report.
The review is just one part of the ACCC’s year-long Digital Platform Services study, due to be completed in early 2025.
The report also found a range of consumer harms on social media, including the prevalence of scams.
Australians reported losses of more than $80 million by 2022 from social media-only scams. This is more than reported losses of $56 million in 2021 and $27 million in 2020.