Social Media Influencers

Social Media Influencers Can Get Slapped With Rs 50 Lakh Fine For Doing This

Social media influencers could land in trouble if they mislead their audiences when endorsing products or services. The Department of Consumer Affairs under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has released an ‘Endorsements Know-hows!’, which is a detailed guide on how endorsements should be introduced to their audiences. These changes have been issued on 20 January as advertising has spread from print, television and video to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

The ‘Endorsements Know-hows! state that celebrities need to ensure that these advertisements are hard to miss. “Any celebrity, influencer or virtual influencer who has access to an audience and can influence their purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand, or experience must disclose any material connection with the advertiser. This includes not only benefits and incentives, but also monetary or other compensation, trips or hotel stays, media barters, coverage and awards, free products with or without conditions, discounts, gifts and any family or personal or employment relationship,” state the guidelines.

Social Media Influencers and Other Celebrities that This Rule Applies To

These guidelines will have to be followed by any celebrity that falls under the following category: 

  • Celebrities: Famous personalities, including but not limited to entertainment or sports industry who have the power to affect the decisions or opinions of their audience.
  • Social Media Influencers: Creators who advertise products and services with a strong influence on the purchasing decisions or opinions of their audience.
  • Virtual influencers: Fictional computer generated ‘people’ or avatars who have realistic characteristics, features and personalities of humans, and behave in a similar manner as influencers.

Simply put, any individual or group that has access to audience and the power to affect their audiences’ purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand or experience, because of the influencer’s or celebrity’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience will have to follow these guidelines.

How Social Media Influencers Should Disclose These Endorsements?

The social media influencers need to ensure that endorsements are disclosed their followers through the following modes:

  • Disclosures should be placed in the endorsement message in such a manner that they are clear, prominent and extremely hard to miss.
  • In case of endorsement through pictures, disclosures should be superimposed over the image enough for viewers to notice.
  • Disclosures should be placed in the video and not just in the description in case of video endorsements.
  • In livestreams, disclosures should be displayed continuously and prominently during the entire stream.

Viewers can also report social media influencers who have not been following the rules at ASCI and Consumer Forum.

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