Instagram will be rolling out tools that comprise of a prompt requiring influencers to confirm whether they have received incentives to promote a product, and a new algorithm to detect potential advertising.
An investigation by a UK Watchdog, led to a conclusion that several influencers were engaging in hidden advertising, that is not disclosing clearly that they have been paid or incentivized to promote a product, and Instagram had been failing to protect the consumers being misled.
In a tweet sharing a report by BBC, Adam Mosseri, Head Of Instagram, mentioned that the steps would help ensure users know when influencers are getting paid for the posts, and CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) had worked with them on this action.
The new tools would be rolled out over the next year. The Competition & Markets Authority (UK) had been investigating social media endorsements to make sure influencers are being clear with their followers.
As a result of this investigation and the action taken, CMA was able to secure formal commitments from 16 celebrities to ensure they will now say clearly if they have been paid or received any gifts or loans of products that they endorse.
The celebrities include Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora, models Alexa Chung, and more.
In the update regarding commitments by the endorsers, commenting on the huge impact of influencers on purchasing decisions, Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA had mentioned, “People could, quite rightly, feel misled if what they thought was a recommendation from someone they admired turns out to be a marketing ploy”.
Apart from the CMA action, branded content policies by Facebook state, “Branded content may only be posted with the use of the branded content tool, and creators must use the branded content tool to tag the featured third-party product, brand or business partner with their prior consent”.
Despite these policies, several Instagram influencers had been indulging in hidden advertising, not just in the UK, but in India, and around the world too.
For several reasons such as appearing to be as a genuine consumer posting a positive review, not risking losing followers by frequently posting ads, and many more, influencers choose not to disclose that they have been paid, or benefit, or receive some sort of incentive to post an ad.
While the steps taken by Instagram are notable, the platform would need a stronger algorithm that detects potential advertising, or additionally, the introduction of a way for users to report potential ads may aid too.