UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has launched an inquiry to examine the power of influencers, how influencer culture operates and, most notably the absence of regulation in this area.
This inquiry follows an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which found that over 75% of influencers "buried their disclosures within their posts".
We should expect further regulation in this area following the inquiry after the DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said of the inquiry 'We’ll be looking at whether there’s a need for tighter regulation in this area and what form that might take.'
For those interested in taking part the inquiry is now open - closing on Friday 7 May (Call for evidence - Committees - UK Parliament). They welcome written submissions addressing the following :
- How would you define ‘influencers’ and ‘influencer culture’? Is this a new phenomenon?
- Has ‘influencing’ impacted popular culture? If so, how has society and/or culture changed because of this side of social media?
- Is it right that influencers are predominantly associated with advertising and consumerism, and if not, what other roles to influencers fulfil online?
- How are tech companies encouraging or disrupting the activities of influencing?
- How aware are users of the arrangements between influencers and advertisers?
- Should policymakers, tech companies and influencers and advertisers themselves do more to ensure these arrangements are transparent?
Recognising not only the harmful side of this cultural revolution, the Committee also hopes to assess the positive side of influencer culture including raising campaign awareness in relation to vaccine hesitancy among those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The possibility of new regulation does not come as a surprise. The ASA has been fighting a losing battle for a number of years now and it's clear the regulators need a new weapon in their arsenal to see real progress in this area. Watch this space.
Influencers wield a growing power over people’s lives. We want to find out how influencer culture operates and what impact it has. There’s concern that while influencers are useful to advertisers in reaching the right markets on social media, there is a lack of transparency around the promotion of products or services.