Concern over social media influencers prompts probe

MPs have launched an investigation into the power of influencers on social media amid concerns about a lack of transparency in online advertising for products and services.

The DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) committee has announced that it will investigate how influencer culture works and take into account the current lack of regulations regarding the promotion of influencer products.

The committee highlighted a report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that found that more than three-quarters of influencers had “buried” claims that they were being paid to promote a product on their posts.

Another study by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), released earlier this month, which monitored the accounts of more than 100 UK-based influencers, found that advertising compliance was unacceptably low.

The DCMS committee said its research also hopes to assess the impact influencers have on media and popular culture, and examine the positive role they can play – such as raising awareness on key issues.

“Influencers have a growing power over people’s lives. We want to find out how influencer culture works and what effects it has,” said committee chairman Julian Knight.

“There is concern that while advertisers may be useful to influencers in reaching the right markets on social media, there is a lack of transparency when promoting a product or service.

“We will examine whether stricter regulation is necessary in this area and what form this could take.”

To begin the investigation, the committee has requested written comments from stakeholders by May 7th, covering areas such as defining influencers, the impact on popular culture, and technology companies promoting or disrupting their activities.

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