As India’s influencer marketing industry continues to grow, the Centre has issued new guidelines to regulate business practices and deceptive online advertising. Now, social media influencers will have to disclose any promotional content, as per a press conference by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The regulations will also be applicable to virtual social media personalities, promoting products and services online.
The new regulations ask for disclosures to be prominent enough to be noticeable in the content and it should also be clearly mentioned in post descriptions. In promotional live streams as well, the disclosure about paid partnerships should be there. The guidelines also require the disclosure to be in the same language as the content.
If failed to do so, social media influencers will be liable for a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. For repeated offenses, the penalty can go up to Rs 50 lakh, the government said. Consumers can file complaints if they discover an influencer not following the guidelines. The center is in discussion with companies to deploy some crawling algorithms to identify offenders.
Consumer affairs department secretary Rohit Kumar Singh explained to the media, “today’s guidelines are aimed at social influencers who have a material connection with the brand they want to promote on various social media platforms. So this is an obligation for them to behave responsibly.” He further added, “you can never cover it 100%. This is a cat-and-mouse thing… So, the idea is to protect the interests of the consumers and let him not be taken for a ride by showing him something as unbiased whereas actually, it is a paid thing.”
In 2022, the market for social media influencers in India was valued at $157 million. And, it is anticipated to grow to $345 million by 2025, according to the secretary. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Indian advertising industry’s self-regulatory body has also welcomed the government’s move.