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Influencers face probes after EU-wide sweep
(Pic: Shutterstock)

14 Feb 2024 / technology Print

Influencers face probes after EU-wide sweep

Consumer-protection authorities across the EU are to investigate more than 300 social-media influencers, after an analysis found that only one in five of those who posted commercial content systematically disclosed this as advertising.

The ‘sweep’ of social-media posts was carried out by the European Commission and national consumer-protection authorities of 22 member states, Norway, and Iceland. Ireland was among the EU members involved.

The exercise found that nearly all (97%) of the 576 influencers posted commercial content, but only 20% systematically indicated that their content was advertising.

EU law

The aim of the sweep was to verify whether influencers were disclosing their advertising activities, as required under EU consumer law.

The commission says that 358 influencers have been earmarked for further investigation, and national authorities will now contact them to request that they follow the rules in place.

It adds that “further enforcement action may be taken” if necessary.

The commission is also planning to analyse the results in the light of the legal obligations of the social-media platforms concerned under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Platform labels

The sweep found that almost 80% of the verified influencers were exercising a commercial activity, but only 36% were registered as traders at national level. Almost one-third of influencers did not provide any company details on their posts.

The commission says that almost 40% did not use platform labels that serve to disclose commercial content, such as the ‘paid partnership’ toggle on Instagram. Instead, these influencers used wording such as ‘collaboration’, ‘partnership’, or generic thanks to the partner brand.

Just over 80 of the influencers had more than one million followers.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland