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Australian influencers ‘face fines of up to $220,000’ over sponsored posts

The careers of many social media influencers are currently crumbling, after Instagram removed the popular ‘like count’ last week. 

And as engagement levels plummet across the country, a crackdown on the rules regarding sponsored posts could see some influencers ‘fined up to $220,000’.  

Unbeknown to a lot of internet personalities, there are very strict rules and regulations in place when it comes to sharing branded content to fans. 

Influencers could 'face fines of up to $220,000 for not properly declaring sponsored posts' if prosecuted by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Pictured: Sophie Tieman, who is complying with the legal requirements in her posts

Influencers could ‘face fines of up to $220,000 for not properly declaring sponsored posts’ if prosecuted by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Pictured: Sophie Tieman, who is complying with the legal requirements in her posts  

In 2017, a new code regarding social media influencers was introduced by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA). 

According to the ABC, it stated that influencers and social media users ‘must clearly label sponsored posts’ or face a penalty. 

However, the report said the ‘real danger’ is prosecution by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for breach of Australian Consumer Law (ACL). 

The publication claimed at the time that ‘breaching the ACL carries a maximum fine of $220,000 per post for an influencer, and $1.1m for a brand.’ 

Post responsibly: According to a previous report by the ABC, breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) can have huge financial repercussions. Pictured: Sophie Tieman, who complied with the legal requirements in this ad

Post responsibly: According to a previous report by the ABC, breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) can have huge financial repercussions. Pictured: Sophie Tieman, who complied with the legal requirements in this ad

Ouch: The publication claimed in 2017 that 'breaching the ACL carries a maximum fine of $220,000 per post for an influencer, and $1.1m for a brand'. Pictured: Brittany Hockley, who is also complying with the legal requirements

Ouch: The publication claimed in 2017 that ‘breaching the ACL carries a maximum fine of $220,000 per post for an influencer, and $1.1m for a brand’. Pictured: Brittany Hockley, who is also complying with the legal requirements

Whereas most influencers are reluctant to boldly state when they are being paid for a certain post, there are more subtle ways to declare an advert. 

Many users simply include the hashtags ‘sp’ or ‘ad’ somewhere in their lengthy captions, correctly indicating it is a ‘sponsored’ post or ‘advert’.   

However, not all influencers do this, meaning that amid the recent changes to Instagram and discussion on influencers, they may be liable if investigated. 

At present, no influencer has been prosecuted in Australia for not declaring an ad.  

To comply with he regulations, influencers including Married At First Sight's Jules Robinson and Cameron Merchant (pictured) hashtag 'ad' (circled) or 'spon' to declare the advert

To comply with he regulations, influencers including Married At First Sight’s Jules Robinson and Cameron Merchant (pictured) hashtag ‘ad’ (circled) or ‘spon’ to declare the advert

According to ACL, a ‘person, individual or corporation must not engage in conduct which will mislead or deceive other people’, wrote Legal Vision in 2016. 

‘Therefore, the ACL can consider influencer marketing misleading under its provisions if the influencer does not disclose that they are receiving remuneration.’

In October, Ad Standards wrote: ‘There are no rules in Australia that require you to use #ad or #spon. However, the AANA do recommend using it for paid-for posts as it is a simple way to ensure your followers can distinguish it as advertising.’

No matter how an influencer declares a paid for endorsement, the number one rule is they must ‘ensure the ad is distinguishable’ to followers. 

Following the rules: No matter how an influencer declares a paid for endorsement, the number one rule is they must 'ensure the ad is distinguishable' to followers. Pictured: Jules and Cam

Following the rules: No matter how an influencer declares a paid for endorsement, the number one rule is they must ‘ensure the ad is distinguishable’ to followers. Pictured: Jules and Cam

Making it clear: The Bachelor's Brittany Hockley declared her 'ad' for Woolworths last week

Making it clear: The Bachelor’s Brittany Hockley declared her ‘ad’ for Woolworths last week

Since finding fame on Married At First Sight, Jules Robinson and Cameron Merchant are two leading Australian stars perfectly following the guidelines. 

They frequently hashtag ‘ad’ or ‘sp’ at the end of captions on paid-for promotions to their combined 468,000 followers. 

The Bachelor’s Brittany Hockley and Sophie Tieman also do this on their posts, having recently endorsed Woolworths and a hair care range.  

Declared: The Bachelor's Sophie Tieman also follows the guidelines on her Instagram

Declared: The Bachelor’s Sophie Tieman also follows the guidelines on her Instagram 

Daily Mail UK

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