Friday 26 March 2021 11:47 am

MPs launch inquiry into power of social media influencers

MPs have launched an inquiry into the power of influencers amid concerns about a lack of regulation over how social media stars promote products online.

Influencers have been gaining prominence in recent years thanks to the continued growth of social media use and the popularity of hit reality shows such as Love Island.

Read more: Watchdog slams rule-breaking influencers over ‘unacceptable’ social media ads

But they have also come under scrutiny over their advertising practices, with many stars failing to make it clear when they have been paid to promote products or services.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) earlier this month branded levels of compliance among influencers “unacceptable” after an investigation found only a third of stars had correctly labelled their Instagram posts as adverts.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has also launched a clampdown on influencer marketing after finding that three-quarters of stars “buried” disclosures about advertising within their posts.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee today said it will probe the power of influencers, how influencer culture operates and the absence of regulation around adverts.

The inquiry will also look at the positive role influencers can play, such as raising awareness of issues such as vaccine hesitancy.

Read more: The rise of TikTok ‘finfluencers’ offers lessons for the investment industry

“Influencers wield a growing power over people’s lives. We want to find out how influencer culture operates and what impact it has,” said committee chair Julian Knight.

“There’s concern that while influencers are useful to advertisers in reaching the right markets on social media, there is a lack of transparency around the promotion of products or services. We’ll be looking at whether there’s a need for tighter regulation in this area and what form that might take.”