Beauty influencers investigated for not disclosing sponsored content

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into concerns that social media influencers are not making it clear when they have been paid or rewarded to promote a product or service.

As part of its investigation, CMA wrote to a range of celebrities and social media influencers to gather information about their posts and the business agreements they have in place with brands to find out if consumers are being misled.

Online endorsements from people with a large social following help brands to reach target audiences and boost sales. Under consumer protection law influencers are required to label content that they have been paid or rewarded to post.

“Social media stars can have a big influence on what their followers do and buy. If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or a holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it,” said George Lusty, CMA’s senior director for consumer protection.

“It’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.”

If the CMA finds practices that break consumer protection law, it can take further enforcement action through the courts which could result in potential fines and even imprisonment.