Celebs Quizzed Over Hidden Payments to Promote Goods Online

(Bloomberg) -- Celebrities who push products online face a U.K. investigation into whether they are failing to declare they are paid for posts that may sway millions of shoppers.

The Competition and Markets Authority says it’s written to a range of celebrities and “social media influencers” to ask about their posts and the type of business agreements they have with brands.

Consumer protection law requires influencers to state clearly when they are paid or rewarded to promote, review or talk about a product in social media feeds. Failing to label posts properly may lead followers to believe that an endorsement is a star’s own view and to trust a product recommended by someone they admire, the CMA says in an emailed statement.

It’s really important that people "are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand," said George Lusty, the CMA’s senior director for consumer protection.

The CMA is asking people to contact them if they’ve bought products which were endorsed on social media. The authority must ask a court to enforce consumer advertising rules.

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