New rules for social media influencers to be out in December

NEW DELHI : The Union government is preparing to release guidelines governing social media influencers next month, promising stiff fines for those who fail to disclose their brand partnerships.

The guidelines, similar to the rules released in June to prevent misleading advertisements, are already in the final stage, a person aware of the matter said.

“These days, young people make purchase decisions based on social media content put out by influencers. Unlike in the case of an actor endorsing a product in a television ad, it is difficult to figure out if the influencers actually use the products or not. Sometimes, people may not know the influencer, unlike in the case of actors; so, disclosure is going to be very important,” the person cited above said on the condition of anonymity.

Separately, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, is planning its own guidelines on financial advice given out by so-called fininfluencers without a licence, the person added.

On 7 September, Mint reported that social media influencers could face a fine of 10 lakh if they fail to disclose brand associations under the new guidelines.

The amount could go up to 50 lakh if influencers flout the guidelines repeatedly.

According to a recent Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) report, about 87% of advertisements pertaining to influencers were found to violate its influencer guidelines, and many influencers fail to disclose their financial ties with personal care, fashion and electronic brands.

According to some estimates, the Indian influencer marketing industry is valued at nearly 900 crore and could surpass 2,000 crore by 2025.

The advertising standards council’s code asks companies and brands to self-regulate, which requires advertisements to be legal, decent and truthful.

Of the total complaints received by ASCI, 28% of the violations were about influencers.

Of the 781 complaints processed against influencers, 34% were from the personal care category, followed by food and beverage at 17%, and virtual digital assets at 10 %, the report added.

Queries sent to the spokesperson for the ministry of consumer affairs remained unanswered till press time.

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