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Influencer culture: MPs launch inquiry into absence of laws around paid adverts

Written by on 27 March 2021

MPs have launched an inquiry into influencer culture on social media to look at concerns around the perceived lack of transparency around their adverts and promotions online.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee will look at how influencing operates, while considering the absence of laws around the way in which personalities advertise products and services.

A report by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) was highlighted by the committee, which found that more than three-quarters of influencers had “buried” disclosures about payments in their posts.

Another study by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) from earlier in the month which had watched the accounts of more than 100 UK-based influencers, discovered that compliance with advertising rules was “unacceptably low”.

The DCMS Committee says it hopes to weigh up the impact of influencers on the wider media and popular culture, as well as assess the positive role they play on things like raising awareness on key subjects.

“Influencers wield a growing power over people’s lives. We want to find out how influencer culture operates and what impact it has,” committee chairman Julian Knight said.

“There’s concern that while influencers are useful to advertisers in reaching the right markets on social media, there is a lack of transparency around the promotion of products or services.

“We’ll be looking at whether there’s a need for tighter regulation in this area and what form that might take.”

The committee has asked for written submissions from various stakeholders before the 7 May, to look at how influencing should be defined, how it has impacted popular culture and tech companies encourage or disrupt their activities.

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