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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

UOKiK will check whether influencers promote scam and scams in social media

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Do influencers promote the so-called scam, i.e. scams? This is to be checked by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. These are the next activities of UOKiK related to advertising in social media. Moreover, the Office initiated proceedings concerning a penalty for failure to cooperate by four influencers.

According to UOKiK in the press release, the President of the Office, Tomasz Chróstny, “looks at the advertising activities of influencers in social media”. In the first place, doubts were raised by not marking advertising posts as sponsored, which was reported by UOKiK in September.

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UOKiK will check the promotion of “scam”

“In the course of the proceedings, many authors began to mark their materials correctly – in many cases the consumer already knows that they are dealing with advertising” – it was reported.

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The next stage of activities – as indicated – is the initiation by the President of UOKiK of explanatory proceedings regarding the promotion of the so-called scam. As the Office explains, a scam is an activity that aims to mislead.

“This is, for example, informing about non-existent promotions, hiding important product features, unjustly exaggerating the properties or purpose of the advertised product, or offering things that are harmful or dangerous to health” – explained.

“Scam” on social media – what is it?

As an example, the Office gave a situation in which an influencer, in return for remuneration, praised the product, informing that it has a heavily reduced price – e.g. from PLN 600 to PLN 150. Meanwhile, it turns out that the price promotion was false, and in addition, people who placed the order do not receive the product or the delivered product is of lower quality than indicated by the creator on his social media channel.

“I have started an investigation to determine the involvement of influencers in promoting the scam. We will check whether the creators verify the offers of commercial cooperation and how they behave when irregularities are detected, including whether they withdraw from advertising the product or offer repair to their followers” – said Chróstny , quoted in the press release.

According to the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, “you cannot unreflectively decide on questionable cooperation only for financial reasons”. “Every influencer should obey the law when promoting a product or service and take responsibility for their actions” – pointed out Chróstny.

UOKiK notes that the cases of the so-called scams are related to advertising by influencers of products that are sold in the dropshipping model, sometimes by online stores created only for the needs of a specific advertising campaign.

As explained by the Office, the influencer encourages its followers to buy a product “at an allegedly promotional price, presenting its advantages in a biased way”. The online store, after collecting money from customers, may not fulfill orders or close its business. “Even if the customers receive the product in such a situation, they remain without after-sales support related to the right to withdraw from the contract within 14 days or the seller’s liability under the warranty for defects for 2 years from the release of the product” – the Office noted.

Penalty proceedings concerning four influencers

The President of UOKiK pointed out that the recipients of content in social media are largely young people who, despite being familiar with new technologies, are not necessarily able to distinguish between neutral information and advertising.

– They trust that someone is actually recommending a product because they are satisfied with it, not because they are paid for it. Influencers should be aware of this responsibility, especially for the youngest consumers – pointed out Chróstny.

UOKiK reminded that the President of UOKiK, in the course of the investigation regarding the failure of influencers to mark materials promoting products or services as advertising – which may mislead consumers – sent requests to many entities – both the creators themselves and advertising agencies, in which he asked for information , e.g. about concluded agreements, rules of cooperation and labeling of published content. “Unfortunately, some of the addressees did not receive the correspondence or did not answer the questions asked, nor did they send the required documents” – indicated.

In the opinion of Chróstny, such behavior is read “as a lack of cooperation with the President of the Office in the course of the proceedings, for which separate financial sanctions may be incurred”. – For this reason, I initiated proceedings to impose a penalty for failure to provide information. We do not rule out further actions of this type – both in relation to entrepreneurs who do not provide information in the proceedings regarding surreptitious advertising, and the so-called scam – added Chróstny.

As reported by the Office, the proceedings to impose a penalty for non-cooperation in the course of the proceedings concern: Kruszwil Marek Kruszel, MD Marcin Dubiel, Maffashion Julia Kuczyńska, Marley Marlena Sojka.

The President of UOKiK also verifies how social networks allow users to mark sponsored content and whether it has any impact on the reach of people who do it correctly. According to the head of the Office, only influencers who do not inform the consumers who are observing them that they promote products or services for a fee should only bear the negative consequences of limiting the reach.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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