Hidden partnerships, gambling… the ARPP and Instagram campaign against the exaggeration of influencers
Hidden partnerships, fakes and scams… To combat the exaggeration of influencers who are regularly controversial, the Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority (ARPP), in mid-December, launched an information campaign on Instagram to promote the responsible practice online. The goal: to publicize its certificate aimed at training content creators with responsible influence, launched in 2021. While the Ministry of Economy launched a public consultation on the subject on Monday, the deputy director of the ARPP calls for more ways to better punish them. – and taking into account the existing legal framework on these practices.
In December, you launched a campaign to raise awareness of Instagram influencer best practices. What does it consist of?
MOHAMED MANSOURI. It aims to communicate the legal and ethical framework of influence to as many people as possible, whether agents, brands or consumers, to help them identify good practices, such as transparency. In this case, if a partnership is not clear, one will have a penalty of up to two years in prison and 300,000 euros in fines. We also want to remember the rules for the protection of minors.
We linked this campaign to our certificate of responsible influence, and since then, we have seen a real acceleration in registrations: we had 150 certified creators in mid-September, we now have 350. ARPP will also educate the strictly regulated sector: a “gambling option” certificate created with the National Gaming Authority was launched at the end of September, so that content creators know the rules for the protection of minors, tell them not to use videos with attractive characters, not to ask social values about work, or to mislead about the possibilities of earnings. A “financial product option” certificate will be released next March, studied at the Autorité des marchés financiers.
How do you monitor the behavior of influencers and what penalties can you impose on them?
The ARPP has the Responsible Influence Observatory, which was launched in 2019 and which, since 2021, is supported by advanced technologies. The algorithms of our tech suppliers, Reech and Tracker, automatically surface content where there is a good chance of commercial collaboration. They released 30,000 pieces of content which were then reviewed by our lawyers. Using this data, the Observatory, chaired by an interprofessional monitoring committee that notably includes Meta, then adopted an action plan.
The response concluded. It can start with a direct message on Instagram, and up to suspension, withdrawal of the certificate. The advertising ethics jury, an independent body led by two judges and nine members from civil society, can seize and launch punishment: “name and shame”, damage to reputation. He will publish a decision pointing out the violation, which could have economic consequences. In the most serious cases, the jury may forward files to police departments for fraud charges.
Awareness, “naming and shaming”… Is this enough to combat widespread abuse in social networks?
I will not talk about mass drifts. We have 150,000 content creators, and most of them work responsibly. If they do not imply commercial cooperation, it is usually through forgetfulness or ignorance. The scams that we talked about extensively in the media last year, whether they are related to cosmetic surgery, the sale of fake products… Unfortunately, we always get them. There are always scammers. There, we talk about ethics, pedagogy. And talking to cheaters about ethics doesn’t do much good.
The Ministry of Economy launched a public consultation on the subject …
This is an opportunity for ARPP and the profession to recommit to responsible communication. The exchanges in which we have participated since the first round table, around the rights and obligations of influencers, transparency and consumer protection, and management and intellectual property, are well underway.
We are in the context of an inventory: usually, the existing legal framework makes it possible to catch all excesses, whether they are unfair commercial practices or those related to health. The challenge is simply to communicate this framework, and also provide heavier sanctions and resources for the DGCCRF. Our predecessor, the Ad Control Board established in 1935, was created to combat misleading press advertisements, such as miracle hair growth products, because they brought disrepute to the industry and, obviously, which undermines consumer protection. The profession was able to accomplish this by adopting common best practices. We can clearly see that history has an eternal beginning.