Most influencers fail to admit to advertising, EU study shows

FILE PHOTO: EU flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Four out of five influencers on social media fail to disclose commercial content they post is advertising as required under EU law, a European Union study released on Wednesday showed.

The screening of 576 influencers showed that nearly all (97%) of them posted commercial content, but only 20% systematically indicated that it was advertising, the European Commission said it a statement.

"Problematic marketing practices illustrate the importance of having modern robust legislation that is adequate to ensure digital fairness for consumers online," the Commission said.

The EU executive - which led the study together with the national consumer protection authorities of 22 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland - screened posts on social media including Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Snapchat, and Twitch.

Its aim, the Commission said, was to verify whether influencers were complying with EU consumer law.

It did not name the influencers, but said 358 of them were earmarked for further investigation.

National authorities will contact them to request they follow the rules in place and further enforcement action may be taken if necessary.

The post were mainly about fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, travel and fitness. The study found that 119 influencers were promoting unhealthy or hazardous activities, such as junk food, alcoholic beverages, medical or aesthetic treatments, gambling, or financial services such as crypto trading.

The results of the survey will feed into the digital fairness fitness check on EU consumer law - launched in spring 2022 by the European Commission - that will assess whether applicable EU law is sufficient to ensure a high level of consumer protection.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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