Instagram commits to tackling 'hidden advertising'

Tyrone Stewart

Instagram has agreed that it will do more to deal with celebrities and influencers who do not disclose that they’ve been paid to post something, following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA has been investigating what it calls ‘hidden advertising’ on the Facebook-owned platform and has been concerned about how much paid-for content there is that hasn’t been marked as such.

In response, Facebook Ireland, which operates Instagram in the UK, has committed to making it harder for people to post ads on the app without labelling them correctly. It’s agreed to prompt users to confirm if they have been incentivised to promote a product or service, extend its ‘paid partnership’ tool to all users, and use technology to identify when users might not have disclosed that their post is an ad clearly.

Instagram will also have to create a tool to help businesses to monitor how their products are being promoted and trust these businesses to take action, where appropriate.

“For too long, major platforms have shied away from taking responsibility for hidden advertising on their site. 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,” said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA.

“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.”

The changes apply to all users in the UK and anyone around the world who directs posts to Instagram users in the UK.

Last year, 16 celebrities, including Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, Alexa Chung, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Michelle Keegan, and Megan McKenna, made a commitment to the CMA to clearly state if they have been incentivised to make a post on social media.