Real or Fake Junior Answers Questions About Influencers and Deceptive Business Practices

This week in True or False Junior, we look at how the activities and commercial practices of influencers on social networks are regulated by the law.


Reading time: 7 min

According to a DGCCRF investigation, "60% of influencers do not respect regulations on advertising and consumer rights" (TATIANA METELEVA / MOMENT RF)

Is it true that influencers do disguised advertising on their social networks? Is it true that some people promote harmful products? What are the areas in which influencers are not allowed to promote and is this respected? Students from André-Derain colleges in Yvelines, Jean-Perrin colleges in Hauts-de-Seine and Eyrieux colleges in Ardèche question us. To respond to them, we are accompanied by Marie Suderie, spokesperson for the DGCCRF, the general directorate for consumption and fraud repression.

Influencers must indicate when they are promoting a product or service

Camille asks if it’s true”that some influencers don’t always make it clear when they are paid to promote a product“.

Marie Suderie recalls that it is “mandatory to indicate if the publication aims to promote a product or service, if the influencer has received compensation.“In other words, influencers must clearly indicate to their subscribers that they are paid to promote a product. This is included in the consumer code. When we hear about an influencer”pinned for deceptive commercial practice“, this means, for example, that he was paid to promote a product, but without warning you, without clearly indicating it in his publication on Instagram, TikTok or even YouTube.

Influencers must be able to prove that they have tested the products they are promoting

Amine wonders if “do influencers really test their sponsor’s products before advertising them?

Influencers who promote products, touting their benefits or effectiveness, must be able to prove these promises.

For example in June 2023, Capucine Anav, a former reality TV candidate, was sanctioned for having, among other things, promoted on her social networks a “mobile anti-wave patch“supposed to be complete protection against waves. The DGCCRF responded”properties and results not demonstrated“, because there is no conclusive or verifiable scientific element to prove the effectiveness of these patches. Capucine Anav must now stop promoting this product and at the time it had to post on its social networks the administrative injunction which had been made.

These harmful products that are prohibited from promoting

Camille wonders if it’s true”that some influencers can be paid to promote a product that can be harmful” and Jeanne wonders if it is true, about this, “that Poupette Kenza had to pay a fine of 50,000 euros for having recommended a product banned by the French state.

Marie Suderie first explains that “advertising is regulated on the Internet as elsewhere and advertising of prohibited or dangerous products, particularly for health, is simply prohibited.”

Concerning Poupette Kenza, an influencer, she was indeed sentenced, last November, to a fine of 50,000 euros, firstly because she concealed the true commercial intention of some of her product placements and she because she is, on Snapchat, promoting a “teeth whitener“banned in France because it is dangerous for health.

Prohibited from promoting dangerous financial investments, cosmetic surgery, etc.

Amine wonders if it’s true”that certain influencers offer dangerous financial investments to their community“, Axel, wonders if it’s true”that influencers are now prohibited from promoting therapeutic abuses, products that contain nicotine and gambling” and Eléa wonders about the promotion “for cosmetic surgery”.

Marie Suderie explains that it “is prohibited from offering and promoting dangerous financial investments which can lead to partial or total losses of the initial investment.” So the advertising of these products is prohibited. Some influencers do not respect, again, this point of the law. The best known example is that of Nabila. In 2018, she promoted services stock exchanges on Snapchat without also mentioning that she was paid for this. The DGCCRF then equated this with deceptive commercial practices. Nabila had to pay a fine of 20,000 euros at the time.

Marie Suderie, for the rest of the prohibitions, specifies that it is “prohibits influencers from promoting surgical and aesthetic medicine procedures, but also medications subject to medical prescription, subscriptions to services linked to sports predictions or even all products that contain nicotine such as tobacco , tobacco-derived products, electronic cigarettes or puff.”

Legal risks in the event of deceptive commercial practices

Sacha asks us if he “is true that an influencer can be convicted and go to prison for illegal practices“Yes, it’s true, replies Marie Suderie, who specifies that in general, “Deceptive commercial practices are punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros.

Nina also asks Marie Suderie if it is true that “60% of influencers do not respect regulations on advertising and consumer rights“. Yes it’s true, Marie Suderie confirms that “during the latest investigations by the DGCCRF, they found that 60% of the influencers controlled presented offenses, therefore liable to prosecution, for deceptive commercial practices.”

Good reflexes if you suspect an illegal practice

If you see or suspect an illegal practice, it is possible to report it to the DGCCRF, via the site or the application “consumption signal“. This allows you to report problems related to your daily consumption, including malicious influencers. In the section “Internet excluding purchase”it is possible to report an influencer if they promote a dangerous product or if they do not indicate that they are paid by a brand in one of their publications.

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