Advertising through influencers and its impact on consumers

EESC opinion: Advertising through influencers and its impact on consumers

Exploratory opinion at the request of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU on Advertising through influencers and its impact on consumers

Key points

The EESC: 

  • believes that the existing EU legislation provides an adequate level of protection for the dual activity that content creators/influencers can carry out in the single market: mainly as advertisers (and traders) and as sellers/producers;
  • considers it necessary to intervene in order to ensure the homogeneous treatment of the "specific" illegal activities of content creators/influencers in the EU.
  • calls for the administrators of platforms and social media networks to:
  • be jointly and severally liable for illegal content published by content creators/influencers;
  • be obliged to take the necessary action to neutralise the illegal online communication and report the illegal activity to the competent authority;
  • require all content creators/influencers operating outside the EU to identify clear legal liability within the EU and to hold professional indemnity insurance in case of harm caused by unlawful conduct.
  • believes that this harmonised treatment of influencers at EU level should take into account, as a minimum, criteria such as:
    • identifying the advertising nature of their messages with a commercial purpose using indicators and clear warnings, thereby avoiding covert advertising;
    • making these messages subject to sector-specific rules, in order to protect the health and safety of consumers and users, especially minors and other vulnerable groups;
    • considering the breach of rules to be an infringement committed by the influencer, without prejudice to the joint and several liability of advertisers and platforms and social networks. 
  • considers that special attention should also be paid to the use of dark patterns, the improper or disparaging use of trade marks, unauthorised financial products, and identity theft or fake influencers using the images of well-known people without their knowledge;
  • proposes that this regulatory harmonisation be clarified and defined specifically, without prejudice to the complementary creation of co-regulatory frameworks.

For more information, please contact the INT Section Secretariat.