Facebook’s Ireland and United Kingdom unit has agreed to change the way Instagram works to “make it much harder for people to post an (advertisement) on Instagram without labelling it as such,” Britain’s top antitrust regulator announced Friday (Oct. 16).
“The Competition and Markets Authority has been investigating hidden advertising on Instagram over concerns that too many social media influencers are posting content about businesses without making clear where they have been paid or incentivized to do so, and that the platform was not doing enough to tackle the problem,” the announcement explains.
Specifically, the CMA said, Instagram will also give all users the “paid partnership” tool to let them display labels at the top of posts.
And Instagram will “use technology and algorithms designed to spot when users might not have disclosed clearly that their post is an advert and report those users to the businesses being promoted.”
The CMA said Instagram will be “required to involve businesses in the changes by creating a tool to help them monitor how their products are being promoted. As a result, businesses should do their part to comply with consumer protection law and take action where appropriate, including asking the platform to remove posts if necessary.”
Instagram will report its progress against all commitments to the CMA regularly, the regulator said.
The CMA said in its announcement that the guidelines apply not only to users in the United Kingdom, but to users elsewhere who direct posts to users in the U.K.
“For too long, major platforms have shied away from taking responsibility for hidden advertising on their site,” Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said in a prepared statement. “So, this commitment to tackle hidden adverts and overhaul the way people post on Instagram — making it difficult for users to ignore the law — is a welcome step forward.”
Coscelli added, “These changes mean there will be no excuse for businesses to overlook how their brands are being advertised either — making life a lot harder for those who are not upfront and honest with their followers.”
Meanwhile, Facebook continues to add features to Instagram, including offerings designed to appeal to brand managers.
Instagram has drawn the attention of marketing executives in a number of industries, as social media influencers become increasingly important forces in determining which brands are hot — and which aren’t.
Kim Kardashian, for example, used Instagram — even during COVID-19 — to promote her “shape wear” brand SKIMS.
But business executives also have learned the hard way that enlisting a high-profile social media presence can backfire if the person engages in behavior with which a brand would prefer not be linked.