The UK government has vowed to “reshape the rules” of creator marketing following an eight-month inquiry into influencer culture. It has also supported calls for influencers who don’t disclose commercial content to be fined and recommended a raft of new legislation.
It has concluded child content creators have suffered from a “woeful” lack of protection while employment law and advertising regulations are “impotent” in the face of the industry, leaving influencers and consumers at risk of exploitation.
These findings are detailed in a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report – Influencer Culture: lights, camera, inaction? – which is the culmination of a parliamentary inquiry into influencer culture and the creator economy.
MPs interviewed influencers, industry leaders, policy heads from social media companies and academics to understand the issues associated with influencer culture. They also spoke to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about regulating influencer advertising. CORQ’s CEO and founder Sara McCorquodale was interviewed during the inquiry.
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The report concedes that the vast creator economy is valuable to the UK but the government and associated bodies have been too late in seriously reviewing practices of those working in the industry. This has led to lack of diversity, the absence of standardisation in payment, ineffective regulation and zero safeguarding of children as creators and consumers of digital content.
In addition, negative perceptions of influencing as a career has led to content creators experiencing harm on a daily basis and resulted in an industry mental health crisis.
A raft of new legislation is advised in the report, most urgently in regards to child content creators. The committee recommends strident action to legally set out appropriate working hours and conditions, protect children’s earnings, ensure their right to erase content and that they should be monitored by their local authority.
The ASA and CMA having increased powers to regulate the influencer space has also been advised. It recommends the condition of having “editorial control” over a creator’s content should be removed from the CAP Code, which would change the definition of advertising for influencers but no other media producer. It also supports the CMA’s request to enforce consumer protection law without going to court and fine influencers for failing to disclose commercial content.
MP Julian Knight – who is chair of the committee which led the investigation – admitted authorities have reacted too slowly to the “explosion” of the influencer industry.
“It is now up to the Government to reshape the rules to keep pace with the changing digital landscape and ensure proper protections for all,” he said.
By Dina Zubi, staff writer for CORQ.