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Fashion content posted by influencers on social media violated guidelines, says ASCI

These violations were flagged thanks to combined efforts of end consumers and monitoring via AI tools.

social media influencer endorsement

Over 700 posts from influencers across social media platforms were found to be in violation of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines between July and December 2021, the self-regulatory body said in a report.

The report identified the following practices by influencers to be a violation —

  • Absence of disclosures
  • Inconsistency in disclosures: “For example, in Instagram stories, while the first story may have the disclosure, the [following] ones that did not have a disclosure,” the body said.
  • Incorrect disclosure placement: The disclosure labels were not placed in a manner that was easily visible to the audience, the body added.

Influencer-driven marketing strategies have emerged as a viable alternative model for companies to promote their brands. However, since advertising on social media has largely been an unregulated space, the line between content and sponsored content has increasingly become blurry. Consumers may view promotional content without understanding the commercial intent behind the same, ASCI’s influencer marketing guidelines said.

Most violations were related to content on fashion: ASCI report

Source: ASCI

The ASCI report provided a category-wise break-up of the 700 violations that it identified and found that 29% of them were to do with fashion and lifestyle . These were the other categories of content that were identified —

  • Cosmetic: 19%
  • Food and beverage: 13%
  • Personal care: 12%

These findings are a result of suo motu screenings that ASCI took up of 5,000 posts/feeds/stories from influencer handles between July – December 2021.

“Out of the total complaints processed, 21% originated from end consumers, the rest were picked up suo moto through our AI based surveillance. Most complaints from end consumers were from Instagram feeds and stories.” — ASCI report

What do ASCI’s influencer guidelines say?

In February 2021, the self-regulatory body announced draft guidelines for social media influencer marketing. The guidelines by ASCI essentially say:

  1. Advertising by influencers must be disclosed by picking from labels provided by ASCI.
  2. The label/disclosure must be disclosed transparently and prominently.
  3. The label must be in English, or in the language of the content; in the latter case, it must be understood by consumers easily.
  4. Blanket disclosures in “About” section or profile of influencer are insufficient.
  5. In case of images, the label should be put on top of the picture.
  6. For videos without a caption, the label must be displayed and prominent for a significant portion of the video.
  7. For audio, disclosures should be at the beginning and end of the content.
  8. Filters cannot be used for cosmetic products if they exaggerate the effects of said products.
  9. It is recommended that influencer ad contracts contain clauses on disclosure and due diligence.

Few influencers were charging money for amplifying COVID-19 SOS requests

At the peak of the second wave of the pandemic in May 2021, MediaNama found that a few social media influencers were charging money for amplifying SOS calls for blood plasma on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Many such influencers were associated with The Indian Influencer Network (IIN), a platform of 15,000 influencers spanning across 65 cities. For the COVID-19-related campaign in question, The IIN approached brands and startups for a collaboration in helping citizens find plasma donors.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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