26 September 2023

ACCC sweeps into social influencers

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is sweeping into social media platforms to identify misleading testimonials and endorsements by online influencers.

Launching the sweep, Chair of the ACCC, Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the Commission would also target more than 100 influencers who were mentioned in over 150 tip-offs from consumers.

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said most of the tip-offs were about influencers in beauty, lifestyle, parenting and fashion, failing to disclose their affiliation with the product or company they were promoting.

“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,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

“We want to thank the community for letting us know which influencers they believe might not be doing the right thing,” she said.

“Already, we are hearing some law firms and industry bodies have informed their clients about the ACCC’s sweep, and reminded them of their advertising disclosure requirements.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said the sweep, now running, was part of the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022/23, with the broad aim of identifying deceptive marketing practices across the digital economy.

She said the ACCC team was reviewing a range of social media platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook, and livestreaming service, Twitch.

“The sweep is targeting sectors where influencer marketing is particularly widespread including fashion, beauty and cosmetics, food and beverage, travel, health fitness and wellbeing, parenting, gaming and technology,” the ACCC Chair said.

“With more Australians choosing to shop online, consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when making purchases, but misleading endorsements can be very harmful,” she said.

“It is important social media influencers are clear if there are any commercial motivations behind their posts.

“This includes those posts that are incentivised and presented as impartial but are not.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said the ACCC would not hesitate to take action where it saw consumers at risk of being misled or deceived by a testimonial, and potential for significant harm.

She said results of the sweep would be published once they’d been analysed.

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