As the market for social media influencers gets bigger in India, the South Asian country has introduced endorsement guidelines to curb unfair business practices and misleading promotion on the web.
On Friday, the Consumer Affairs Department Hold a press conference To announce new guidance to require social media influencers to disclose promotional content in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
Failure to follow the guidelines will make social media influencers liable to a fine of up to $12,300 (One Million Indian Rupees). The Indian government department said that in case of repeat offenders, the penalty can be up to $61,600 (5 million Indian rupees).
The department specified that the guidelines apply to social media influencers as well as virtual avatars promoting online products and services. It should be easy to notice disclosures in post descriptions where you can usually find hashtags or links. Management said it should be prominent enough to be noticeable in the content.
When it comes to promoted content in videos, management said that disclosures about paid promotions should be placed in the video – not just in the description – and that it be in audio and video format. Influencers must also disclose whether they are promoting a brand, service or product during a live broadcast, according to the guidelines.
The ministry said disclosures and endorsements must be in the language of the content.
Today’s guidelines target social influencers who have a physical connection to the brand they want to promote on various social media platforms. “It is their duty to act responsibly,” Rohit Kumar Singh, the consumer affairs secretary, told reporters.
The official said the administration is in talks with technology companies to deploy some crawling algorithms to identify offenders. Meanwhile, consumers can file complaints if they find an influential person violating the guidelines, the minister said.
“You can never cover it 100%. This is a cat-and-mouse kind of thing… So, the idea is to protect consumers’ interests and let them not be taken for a ride by showing them something unbiased when in fact, it’s something paid,” he added.
According to the minister, the market size of social media influencers in India in 2022 is $157 million. It could reach $345 million by 2025.