Social media influencers need to inform consumers about paid promotions under new guidelines

The disclosures will have to be clear and violations will invite heavy fines.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 05:54 PM IST
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About half of all marketers surveyed as part of a report last year said that they set aside at least 10 per cent of their digital promotion budget for influencers. The social media influencer economy in India is already worth Rs 12,00 crore and is growing at a rapid pace. As the impact of these viral sensations on consumer behaviour becomes visible, the government has released guidelines to curb unfair trade practices and misleading claims.

Heavy penalties await violators

The Department of Consumer Affairs has announced that influencers will now have to publicly disclose if their posts are paid promotions. The revelation will have to be made under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019. Those who violate this guideline, will have to pay up to Rs 10 lakh as penalty, and repeat offenders will be charged as much as Rs 50 lakh.

Need to be clear and visible

The disclosure needs to be made where it is clearly visible, both through the content and in captions that go along with the posts. Virtual avatars which promote products will also be covered under these updated guidelines. The disclosures should also be made in audio as well as visual mediums in case of videos, and the language should be the same as that of the content.

AI to monitor influencers?

The department is also trying to develop an algorithm that can crawl online content to flag offenders, and consumers will also have the option to report influencers spamming them with paid promotions.

Guidelines for paid posts are significant as influencers can make anything between Rs 5000 to Rs 1 lakh per post on Instagram, depending on the number of followers.

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