Australia to investigate deceptive travel and lifestyle influencers

by Lindsey Francy Feb 7, 2023 News
Australia to investigate deceptive travel and lifestyle influencers

The ACCC will investigate around 100 social mediainfluencers. The photo is unsplash.

In Australia, social mediainfluencers who promote companies in return for free travel will be put under scrutiny.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants to crack down on people who don't tell the truth when posts are sponsored.

Travel has become a lucrative topic for social media stars to promote in return for free trips or money.

The ACCC reminded the public about the rules of advertising disclosure on social media and asked the public to share the names of people who appeared to post content without clearly stating it was promotional.

Influencers can't tell consumers if a post is an ad, a sponsorship or if they're getting incentives for promoting a brand.

The names of people who may be doing the wrong thing were encouraged to be shared on Facebook.

The ACCC received more than 150 tips and while most of them were about wellbeing, fitness, parenting and fashion, others promoted tourism and hotels.

Similar to New Zealand, posting content about a trip or gifted item in return for payment (in the form of product or money) isn't wrong if you tell your audience that you've been paid to promote it.

There are rules in New Zealand.

What kind of disclosure is needed is clear by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The new guidance on influencer marketing was published after complaints about Simone Anderson.

According to the guidance, consumers should be aware that the content is an ad when they first view it.

Disclosure of their own is not possible with the use of #sp or #collab.

Ideally, this means stating a post as an ad at the beginning of a caption, rather than at the bottom.

The latter approach is maintained by many popular New Zealand travel and lifestyle contributors.

Social media influencers can often be coy about whether they have received free product or money to post. Photo / 123rf
Social media influencers can often be coy about whether they have received free product or money to post. Photo / 123rf

There is a sea of vague language that hints at a commercial tie in.

They are hosted by a glamping company, had an experience with a company or were invited to do something, while others simply thank the brand and tag them in the caption.

According to a PhD student from a university, the reason for concealing commercial loyalties isn't complicated.

The appeal of aninfluencer is the trust they have with their followers; a trust earned by appearing like a regular friend. If followers become aware of an ad, this benefit is void.

She said that if consumers knew that a post was an advertisement, they would ignore it.

There is a problem with unclear disclosures.

The ACCC is focused on deceptive online marketing practices.

Consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when shopping online, but misleading endorsements can be very harmful.

If there are any commercial motives behind their posts, it is important that they are clear. The posts that are presented as impartial but not are included. Consumers are at risk of being misled or deceived by testimonials, and there is a potential for significant harm, so the ACCC will not hesitate to act.

Findings from the investigation are expected to be published.

The ACCC made a joke about the social media sweep on Facebook.