Instagram and YouTube stars are being investigated for not declaring when they're paid to promote brands
- The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is investigating celebrities and social media stars for not labeling paid promotions on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
- The competition authority has written to a number of stars it suspects of wrongdoing and could name and shame them before the end of the year.
- It is not, at this stage, talking to the social media platforms about whether they are doing enough to stamp out the practice.
Britain's Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into celebrities and social media stars failing to declare when they are being paid to promote brands on platforms like Instagram.
The competition authority said it has written to a range of online stars to gather information about their posts and the nature of the deals they strike with brands to sell everything from vacations to makeup.
Those contacted could be in breach of UK consumer laws, and if they don't comply, the Competition and Markets Authority could potentially take them to court.
The Competition and Markets Authority plans to name those caught up in the investigation before the end of the year. They are understood to be well-known individuals, with large online followings.
Social media celebrities have in the past fallen afoul of advertising rules, which require them to clearly label their posts as adverts if they are being paid to promote goods and services.
One case in 2015 involved Millie Mackintosh, a former reality TV star who has 1.3 million followers on Instagram. She was rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority after posting a video featuring a J20 drink that was not clearly marked as an advert.
The Competition and Markets Authority is not, at this stage, talking to social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube about whether they are doing enough to clamp down on poorly labeled ads. Its investigation could broaden, however, depending on its findings.
"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, the Competition and Markets Authority's senior director for consumer protection.
"So, 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."
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