Bloggers and social media influencers new disclosure rules for paid endorsements

Bloggers and social media influencers who mention products, services or brands in their social media posts (e.g. endorsements or testimonials) in exchange for any kind of remuneration (e.g. cash payment or a free product) will be required to disclose their paid endorsement in such posts.

New guidelines by Advertising Standards Canada (“ASC”), the self-regulating body of the advertising industry, are expected to come into effect by early 2017 and will apply to individuals who use social media (e.g. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook) to mention products or services for companies in exchange for any kind of remuneration. According to the VP of Standards at ASC “Endorsement or testimonials must disclose any material connection between the endorser, reviewer or influencer and the entity that makes a product or service available. If there is a connection, it must be clearly and properly disclosed in proximity to the representation of the product.”

It is anticipated that the guidelines will closely follow the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) rules created in 2009. The proposed guidelines are not law, but while there is no law or regulation in Canada that expressly addresses these individuals and practices, there is a possibility that the lack of disclosure of paid endorsements may fall under consumer protection or competition laws/rules as they relate to advertising (e.g. making false, misleading or deceptive representations).

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