France Restricts What Internet Influencers Can Say, Sell For Brands

France will become the first country in Europe to regulate internet influencers as parliamentarians debate a bipartisan bill to impose restrictions on what people can advertise on social media.

“The areas of commercial influence and content creation are not yet taken seriously enough.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire wrote in a document outlining some steps the government will take to better regulate influencers as the bill is put forward for debate in parliament.

“It is a formidable creative vector and economic benefit rooted in the daily lives of millions of citizens, yet the field suffers from non-existent or unclear rules.”

What is an influencer?

The first article in proposed lawwas introduced by Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party MP Stephane Vojetta and socialist MP Arthur Delaporte defines an influencer as “a person who, directly or indirectly, in exchange for financial or other advantage, mobilizes their notoriety for electronic public disclosure to promote goods, services, or other causes. It is defined as a person who “does”.

There are an estimated 150,000 influencers creating content for the French audience on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and other platforms.

Some celebrities come from the world of reality television.

They are in a social media world where they expect their followers not to pay for content, so receiving money from brands has become a way to supplement the time spent on their accounts.

“If you want to make a living out of what you do, you need brand sponsorship.” Gwaran de Kervilah Professor of Marketing at IESEG School of Management, told RFI.

“But there are issues of balance, transparency and credibility.”

It is estimated that most influencers earn less than €5,000 a year, but in some cases, someone with 3 million followers can earn up to €25,000 for a single post.

curbing bad practices

The proposed law is backed by the government. public hearing Over regulatory issues after some high-profile influencers had trouble promoting fake products and shady financial schemes.

France already needed Content of brand sponsors indicated to users via explicit disclaimers. New laws require disclaimers to be included as banners on photos and videos, not just as descriptions and hashtags.

However, in one report published in January, DGCCRF, the consumer protection arm of the Ministry of Economy, found that 6 out of 10 French influencers do not respect the regulation.

We also found that influencers promoted fraudulent products, gambling, or cosmetic surgery that were not done by medical professionals.

The influencer himself says there are some bad apples, but warns lawmakers against cracking down on this.

“In many cases, errors are purely due to lack of information or creators not knowing much about the rules to respect and realizing they went viral overnight.” Karine Fernandez, president of the newly formed Union of Influencers and Content Creators Employers (UMICC), said: told RFI.

“We just want to contribute to making the rules accessible to them and ensure they are respected when working with brands.”

New rules and responsibilities

Proponents of the law say the law is intended to protect influencers and consumers.

The bill would impose the same rules on influencers as traditional media, with restrictions on promoting financial products, cryptocurrencies, alcohol and tobacco, and restrictions on health warnings about promoting foods high in sugar and salt. .

Filtered or photoshopped images used to advertise products must be labeled as such.

For body-positive, plus-size influencer Gaelle Prudencio, dealing with filtered images is important.

“Influencers post really retouched photos, but that’s a red flag for me,” she told RFI.

“Because adolescents have not yet clarified their identities, excessive use of filters affects those who follow us.”

The bill also bans influencers from promoting cosmetic surgery as part of a paid partnership.

Fines, imprisonment, account suspension

Penalties for violating the new rules include fines of up to €375,000, imprisonment and, perhaps most importantly for influencers, temporary or permanent account suspension.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok should set up channels for consumers to report fraud.

Le Maire said 15 economic ministry officials would respond to fraud alerts and decide whether to refer them to court. France Restricts What Internet Influencers Can Say, Sell For Brands

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