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India publishes guidelines for social media influencers accepting paid promotions • TechCrunch

As India’s social media influencer market expands, the South Asian country has introduced endorsement guidelines to limit unfair business practices and misleading promotions on the internet.

This was reported by the Department of Consumer Affairs on Friday held a press conference to announce new guidelines to make it mandatory for social media influencers to disclose promotional content in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Failure to follow the guidelines will make social media influencers liable for a fine of up to $12,300 (1 million Indian rupees). In the case of repeat offenders, the fine could be up to $61,600 (5 million Indian rupees), the Indian government department said.

The department specified that the guidelines apply to social media influencers and virtual avatars that promote products and services online. The disclosures should be easy to notice in post descriptions where you can usually find hashtags or links. It also needs to be prominent enough to stand out in the content, the department said.

When it comes to promoted content in videos, the department said disclosures for paid promotions must be placed in the video — not just the description — and must be done in both audio and video format. Influencers must also disclose whether they promote a brand, service or product during live streams, according to the guidelines.

The department said the disclosures and approvals must be in the language of the content.

“Today’s guidelines are aimed at social influencers who have a material connection to the brand they want to promote across various social media platforms. So this is an obligation on them to behave responsibly,” Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary of the consumer affairs department, told reporters.

The official said the department was in talks with tech companies to deploy some crawling algorithms to identify offenders. Meanwhile, consumers can file complaints if they feel an influencer is breaking the guidelines, the secretary said.

“You can never cover it 100%. This is a cat and mouse thing… So the idea is to protect the interests of the consumer and not take them for a ride by showing them something so unbiased when it’s actually a paid thing is,” he added.

According to the secretary, the size of the social media influencer market in India will reach $157 million by 2022. It could reach $345 million by 2025.

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