While many use their reach for good (think raising awareness of social issues and championing worthy causes), there’s no denying that there are some influencers out there who’ll promote anything for a pay-day. And that’s the dark side of the ever-growing industry that Dubai’s government has this week warned residents to be wary of.
The Consumer Protection department has urged consumers to use care and common sense when it comes to this 21st-century form of marketing, advising them to give extra thought before being sucked into paid-for posts. “Do not restrict your choices to social media influencers opinion on a product, service or a meal in a restaurant,” the department tweeted alongside a video. In the short clip, a woman films a croissant, before walking away – leaving the food untouched – after receiving a pay packet.
“Some of them are paid to advertise convincingly to you. Ask more before you make a purchase,” the message added. Indeed, many modern-day digital stars are paid a handsome fee for promoting products with some doing much more research than others – while others don’t necessarily brand paid-for content as sponsored.
Do not restrict your choices to social media influencers opinion on a product, service or a meal in a restaurant.
Some of them are paid to advertise convincingly to you.
Ask more .. before you make a purchase . #smart_consumer #empowerd_consumer pic.twitter.com/ITFrVRaJEE
— حماية المستهلك – دبي Consumer Protection (@dubai_consumers) October 20, 2018
It’s thanks to the sometimes-murky nature of the industry that the UAE last year introduced measures to regulate social media influencers in the Emirates, which came into force this summer. From June 1, anyone who uses their digital channels to promote or sell products as part of a paid-for partnership must hold a license, the National Media Council has ruled, with those who flout the law facing fines of SAR/AED 5,000, and risk having their social media accounts suspended or shut down.
The new accreditation was introduced in a bid to regulate the industry in the UAE, much like it is in the UK and US, and to create a more transparent, impartial, and quality-controlled environment. HE Dr Rashed Khalfan Al Nuaimi, executive director of Support Services at the National Media Council, said at the time: “It is primarily our intention to carefully regulate digital media and ensure that the best standards are provided which adhere to our established criteria.”