More rules for influencers, do they work?

On November 1st 2020, a new Media Law went into effect, allowing the Dutch Media Commmission to enforce on hidden or veiled advertising on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. It is possible that in the future fines will be handed out to influencers who do not comply with the law. With this law, popular influencer could be prosecuted if they didn’t disclose the fact that they’re getting paid to promote products in their videos or posts. (NOS)

Not only in the Netherlands is this a thing, but in countries like the England and Germany as well. Advertising watchdogs like the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) found that in 24,000 posts made by 122 UK influencers, 35% was not labelled as an ad. The ASA also started calling out influencers publicly, like Jodie Marsh, Chloe Khan, Lucy Mecklenburgh and Chloe Ferry. Tiktok is also subject (The Guardian)

Social media has been a somewhat grey area when it came to influencers who use and promote products, but since 2017 there have already been rules that were set up by Youtube. In the Netherlands, quite a few arguments are about child safety on social media. The question is if a little more transparancy is going to solve the fact that children are easily influenced or even manipulated into buying or wanting certain products.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

Child safety and family vloggers

But there’s not just a call for more rules against hidden advertising, currently there is a debate going on about child influencers or family vloggers.

In the Netherlands, strict rules apply to children under the age of 13 who participate in commercials or TV programs. On social media, these rules are not always followed. Family vloggers portray their family life on social media. In some cases they are paid to promote products. If children are often used for this, an exemption must be requested from the Inspectorate of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment, but this often does not happen. Research by RTL News found out that the amount of Dutch children making money on Youtube or Instagram has tripled in the last few years.

This, again, is somewhat of a grey area. In some cases, using a child for promoting a shirt is alright, it really becomes a problem when it’s done consistently. Besides the fact that family vlogs can be regarded as using child labor, the stress of filming these vlogs can also be harmful to children. Youtube deleted a channel by the name of “Daddyofive”, after emotional abuse of the children in these vlogs, often in videos about ‘pranks’.

I remember when I used to watch family vlogs, it was a way to live through someone else and experience the cool things they did. But looking at it now, it seems invasive as a viewer and harmful for the people involved in making the vlogs, as every detail (and mistake) of your life is broadcasted. Then again, reality tv has been popular for ages and the phenoma is probably not going away soon, just like the brand deals. What are your thoughts about rules aimed at influencers and online content creators?