Social media influencers in America might want to pay attention to regulators in the United Kingdom watching them closely as they’ve become rather big business. The FTC stepped in several years ago to make sure that social media influencers weren’t tricking their followers by not disclosing they were plugging brands while getting paid for it. While many still tempt fate by not disclosing that special #ad tag, it will catch up to them.
Since Instagram has become advertisers favorite social media for influencers, they are the first to really step in to better regulate things. It’s good as both Twitter and Facebook really suck at it. It’s very easy to slip product and advertising in without ever getting caught. You can see many accounts doing this every day. With Instagram and the UK stepping up on social media influencers, it will eventually come over to America. You have been warned.
British regulators said Friday that Instagram will clamp down on “hidden advertising” by social media influencers.
The Competition and Markets Authority said Instagram’s owner Facebook has committed to tightening policies to restrict influencers who don’t disclose they’re being paid to promote businesses on its platform.
It’s part of an investigation into the influencer industry the watchdog launched two years ago. Regulators are concerned that Instagram wasn’t doing enough under consumer protection laws to stop hidden advertising, which is illegal in the U.K. They want to make it harder to mislead people with posts that aren’t labeled as ads.
Influencers are online personalities with thousands of followers who can earn hefty fees from brands for endorsing or reviewing their products or services.
“These changes mean there will be no excuse for businesses to overlook how their brands are being advertised either – making life a lot harder for those who are not upfront and honest with their followers,” CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said.
Under the new policy, Instagram will ask users to confirm if they’re getting a reward for promoting a product or service and if they are, make them disclose it clearly.
The company will also start using technology and algorithms to spot users who haven’t clearly revealed that their posts are advertisements, and then report those users to the businesses they’re promoting.
Instagram is also opening up its “paid partnership” tool, so that any user can display a label at the top of a post.
The changes apply to all U.K.-based users as well as anyone globally who is targeting Instagram users in the U.K.
As part of its investigation, the competition authority last year secured formal commitments from 16 celebrities, including singers Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora, to label any posts that involved payments for or gifts of products they were pitching.
When social media tries to please everyone, they can wind up going too far, and it appears that Twitter is stepping up to say they might have overreacted to the New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Twitter was wrong to block weblinks to an unverified political story, CEO Jack Dorsey said on Friday, as the company responded to criticism over its handling of the story that had prompted cries of censorship from the right.
“Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix,” he tweeted. “Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that.”
After initially blocking people from sharing links to the story Wednesday, on Friday Twitter was letting its users to post the link. It served as demonstration of how quickly things can change when it comes to social media, misinformation and the coming U.S. election as companies try to navigate unprecedented times.
Dorsey was weighing in after an executive at the social media company announced changes late Thursday to its policy on hacked content following an onslaught of criticism.
Twitter will no longer remove hacked material unless it’s directly shared by hackers or those working with them, the company’s head of legal, policy, trust and safety, Vijaya Gadde, said in a Twitter thread.
And instead of blocking links from being shared, tweets will be labeled to provide context, Gadde said.
“We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation,” she said.
Twitter and Facebook had moved quickly this week to limit the spread of the story published by the conservative-leaning New York Post, which cited unverified emails from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son that were reportedly discovered by President Donald Trump’s allies. The story has not been confirmed by other publications.
San Francisco-based Twitter initially responded by banning users from sharing links to the article in tweets and direct messages because it violated the company’s policy prohibiting hacked content. But it didn’t alert users about why they couldn’t share the link until hours later.
But by Friday, people were free to post the links again. Twitter said that was because the “once-private” information in the article is now “widely available” in the press and on other platforms.
Dorsey had first tweeted that it was “unacceptable” the company hadn’t provided more context around its action. A little over 24 hours later, Gadde announced the company was making changes after receiving “significant feedback (from critical to supportive)” about how it enforced the policy.
Facebook said it was “reducing” the story’s distribution on its platform while waiting for third-party fact-checkers to verify it, something it regularly does with material that’s not banned outright from its service, though it risks spreading lies or causing harm in other ways.
Trump is now incorporating Twitter’s action into his campaign rallies, pleading with his supporters to send a message on Election Day to what he described as “censors.”
“We’re not just running against Joe Biden. We’re running against left-wing media and we’re running against big tech,” Trump said.