Insights Competition and Markets Authority secures undertakings from Facebook to do more to prevent hidden advertising being posted on its Instagram platform

The CMA has been investigating Instagram due to concerns that it was not doing enough under UK consumer protection law to prevent its users from endorsing businesses without making it clear that they had been paid or given free gifts to do so.

Hidden advertising is illegal in the UK. By the end of this year, anyone attempting to endorse a business on Instagram will be prompted to confirm before posting if it appears they have been offered an incentive. If they have, they will not be able to publish their post until they have included a clear disclosure.

The CMA explains that Instagram will also be implementing technology designed to help it identify posts containing adverts that have not been clearly and prominently disclosed. By summer 2021, Instagram will report users posting suspected unlabelled content to the businesses whose products they are endorsing. Those businesses will then be able to take appropriate action swiftly, including asking Instagram to remove posts.

Instagram will also make it easier for businesses to increase their own compliance with UK law by enabling them to detect posts that promote them or their products so that they can check lawful disclosures have been made.

Instagram has also committed to the CMA that it will revise and make clearer its policies governing the publication of incentivised endorsements and, importantly, uphold its Terms of Use which include the deletion of posts or termination of user accounts that are found to have breached these policies.

The CMA says that it will continue investigating the practices of other social media platforms to ensure that changes are made where necessary.