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EU Council’s Recommendations for Responsible Influencer Marketing

The Council of the European Union has released new recommendations to enhance influencers' legal and social responsibility on social media.

Anneli Alchahin
June 2024
Legal Lingo

The Council has spoken…

Influencer marketing is growing faster than ever, with more regulations and recommendations that must be established to uphold a fair and authentic digital environment. Currently, certain rules are in place (the Audiovisual Media Service Directive, Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Consumer Rights Directive, etc.). Still, they need to guide on how influencer marketing should be handled. They are more general and have certain requirements to be applicable in specific situations. 

Due to influencers' increasing impact on social media and their ability to create and shape public opinions, ensuring compliance with legal standards becomes crucial. Therefore, on the 14th of May 2024, the Council of the European Union published new recommendations to improve influencers' legal and social responsibility on social media. The Council union wants to support the growth of influencer marketing but in a controlled manner.

Some of the recommendations the Council has come forward with are:

Increased legal awareness among influencers

One of the most prominent recommendations - increasing awareness of the laws governing influencer marketing for influencers. To uphold legal awareness, both the European Union and the individual countries involved must enable it. The Council aims to make the legislation easier to understand andaccessible, ultimately decreasing unintentional non-compliance. 

This also requires a commitment to responsible behavior from the influencers themselves. Even if influencers may not know the law, they should not abuse their influence by spreading harmful content, hate speech, or misinformation. Ignorance of the law does not make you free from responsibility.

Influencers involvement in developing policies

Along with having clear and understandable information regarding the laws governing influencer marketing, involving the influencers during the development of these policies may be a solution to get both perspectives. Since influencers understand the digital media sphere, the Council emphasizes the importance of involving them in creating and developing media policies. 

Increasing their involvement also raises influencers' understanding of their impact and the role they play in the digital world, including the consequences of harmful content and the importance of disclosing the advertisement. Being involved and contributing to the development of the social media environment and influencer marketing may increase responsible behavior from influencers and content creators.

Promote self-regulation among the actors

According to the Council recommendations, self-regulation is another way to enhance the desired responsible behavior. This aims to have the other big actors, like brands and agencies, have internal guidelines or create ethical codes of conduct. 

Brands and agencies should have a certain degree of knowledge while operating within influencer marketing and promote it while working with influencers. If brands and agencies can spread their knowledge to their influencers as well, responsibility is upheld in the influencer marketing industry.

Protection of “Kidfluencers”

One of the concerns that influencer marketing has raised over the years is how minors use the different platforms and the impact influencer marketing has on them, particularly minors that are content creators, also called “Kidfluencers”. Kidfluencers are more vulnerable and The Council has shared this view by acknowledging the impact the industry has on minors. 

The need to establish a safe and healthy environment by observing the interests of the minors grows along with the expansion of the industry. Harmful or misleading information can easily affect this audience. Therefore, it is important to have clear guidelines on how to keep a healthy social media environment for minors.

AI and Influencer Marketing

Deepfakes, AI influencers, and AI-generated content are more prominent than ever. With the new EU AI act, creators using AI will have the responsibility to inform and disclose whenever content is produced with any AI system. 

The Council emphasizes the significant impact of AI and the necessity of adherence to compliance standards to maintain integrity and authenticity within a challenging digital marketplace.

The Council's published recommendations serve as guidelines aimed at increasing influencers' accountability on social media, ensuring authenticity in an environment complicated by the rise of AI and the spread of misleading information. 

Regulating and harmonizing the influencer marketing sector across the European Union is among the Council's key objectives, along with national EU consumer protection authorities, which are actively pursuing various measures to enhance industry compliance. 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK's advertising authority, has taken proactive steps such as creating a list that names influencers who fail to transparently disclose ads on their social media platforms and keep an eye on the influencer marketing industry in general.

The purpose of these Council recommendations is to highlight the significant influence that influencers have in the world of influencer marketing and to demonstrate how strengthening cooperation among diverse actors can lead to better outcomes.

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