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Four in five social media influencers do not disclose paid content, according to a new report by the European Commission.

Why we care. If an influencer doesn’t clearly say that a post is an advertisement, they’re not just violating advertising guidelines, but both the influencer and the brand they’re promoting could be breaking the law.

Legal requirements. In the European Union, consumer laws require influencers to be transparent in their posts. They shouldn’t provide false or misleading information about products or services covered by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. If an influencer is earning money or benefits from promoting a brand’s products or services in a post, they must disclose it as advertising.

Additionally, influencers who sell their own products or services are subject to the same legal responsibilities as online shops. This includes providing consumers with the necessary legal guarantees and withdrawal rights as mandated by the Consumer Rights Directive.

The report. The European Commission analyzed posts of 576 influencers on unspecified major social media platforms. It reported the following findings:

  • Out of all influencers, 97% shared posts with commercial content, yet only 20% consistently revealed that the content was actually advertising.
  • 30% of influencers failed to include any company details, such as email address, company name, postal address, or registration number, in their posts.
  • 38% of influencers did not utilize platform labels intended for disclosing commercial content, such as the “paid partnership” toggle on Instagram. Instead, they chose alternative terms like “collaboration” (16%), “partnership” (15%), or expressing gratitude to the partner brand in a generic manner (11%).
  • 40% of the influencers ensured that the disclosure remained visible throughout the entire commercial communication. Additionally, 34% of influencer profiles displayed the disclosure immediately without requiring extra steps, such as clicking on “read more” or scrolling down.
  • Out of the influencers surveyed, 40% promoted their own products, services, or brands. Among this group, 60% did not consistently or at all disclose that their content was advertising.

What the European Commission is saying. The European Commission said in a statement:

  • “EU consumer law provides that commercial communications need to be transparent. In their posts, influencers should not mislead consumers with false or untruthful information on the promoted products or services that fall under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.”
  • “Any promotion of the products or services of a brand in a post that earns its influencer revenues or other types of benefits must be disclosed as an advertising activity.
  • “In addition, influencers who sell products or services for their own account have the same legal obligations as online shops, such as providing consumers with legal guarantees or withdrawal rights as required by the Consumer Rights Directive.

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Deep dive. Read the European Commission’s report in full for more information.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid media, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book Mastering In-House SEO.

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