September 20, 2021
Back in June 2021, the ASA launched a new dedicated web page naming individual influencers who, despite being put on notice that they would face further sanctions if they did not follow the advertising rules, had repeatedly failed to disclose when their Instagram posts were ads. The ASA says that the ad rules are clear: it must be obvious to consumers before they read, “like” or otherwise interact with a social media post if what they are engaging with is advertising.
The ASA has now announced that it has added five former Love Island contestants to the web page, as part of the regulator’s continued action against influencers who fail to act transparently and who mislead their followers by not labelling ads in their social media posts.
In March 2021, the ASA’s published its Influencer Monitoring Report, which examined levels of ad disclosure on Instagram through 122 UK-based influencer accounts, in which it found inconsistent disclosure through Stories, posts and Reels, with the rules being followed (when posts were ads) only 35% of the time.
The ASA has worked with ITV to create a “cheat sheet” for Islanders, which is essentially dedicated guidance to help them understand how and when the rules apply to them. Despite this, a small number have been unable to follow the rules and continue to mislead their followers.
Eve Gale, Jess Gale, Belle Hassan, Francesca Allen and Anna Vakili were all contacted by the ASA’s compliance team and asked to provide an assurance that they would include clear and upfront ad labels in their advertising posts, following failures to disclose ads. They either failed to provide that assurance in the first instance or subsequently reneged on it.
Named influencers will be on the webpage for three months and subject to a period of enhanced monitoring spot checks. The ASA says that it will continue to add influencers and brands that repeatedly fail to disclose over time.
If named influencers continue to break the rules around non-disclosure, the ASA can implement further sanctions, including taking out ads against them, working with social media platforms to have their content removed or referring them to statutory bodies for possible fines.
The ASA says that it will also be looking to take action against brands that repeatedly fail to disclose ads or do not provide assurances that they will properly label ads in future.
In most cases, the use of #ad (or similar) is the clearest way of communicating the commercial nature of social media content. Alternatively, a platform’s own disclosure tools, such as Instagram’s Paid Partnership tool, can also help to distinguish advertising from other content. To read the ASA’s press release in full and for a link to the non-disclosure webpage, click here.