Misleading social media ads can have 'damaging' impact on young people

Reality TV stars Sophie Kasaei and Millie Mackintosh had to remove ads from their social media profiles. Credit: PA

There is growing concern about misleading adverts targeting young people on social media.

Influencers, people who are paid to represent brands and advertise products on social media, have to follow strict rules when they post an ad.

  • Brands, celebrities and influencers must follow local laws and UK businesses and influencers are asked to comply with CMA and ASA guidance on sponsored social media posts.

  • Advertisements on Instagram must show clearly that they are an ad, this can be done by adding '#ad' onto the description of a post.

The highest earning influencer is Kylie Jenner. She earns $1 million per sponsored post, according to HopperHQ's 2018 Instagram Rich List.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé are in the top five for the highest earners per post.

Kylie Jenner earns $1 million per sponsored post. Credit: PA

Jessica Davies from Aberystwyth is an ex-glamour model who is now a blogger and influencer.

Jessica Davies describes herself as a 'social media addict'. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Jessica said certain products influencers advertise can be "damaging", including those which claim to help with weight loss or suppressing appetite.

Millie Mackintosh had to remove a soft drinks ad, which was not clearly labelled. Credit: PA

A number of reality TV stars have come under fire for misleading Instagram posts. Celebrities including Sophie Kasaei and Marnie Simpson from Geordie Shore, Louise Thompson and Millie Mackintosh from Made in Chelsea and Olivia Buckland from Love Island, have had rulings against them for breaching the rules.

In 2017, an Instagram post on TV personality Sophie Kasaei’s, included text which stated “#ad Tummy Game Plan? You know it’s @flattummytea. Nothings [sic] gonna get you flat the same as this tea will. The excuses are in the past, much like the water weight I used to have”.

The ASA received a complaint about the post. It approached the company, who said they were not aware of the fact their advertising would need to be compliant with EU regulation. The company also told ASA they did not hold scientific data to support their claims that the tea ingredients could help with water weight loss.

The ASA told Flat Tummy Tea that the ad could not appear again in its current form, that they had to remove the claims, and ensure their future ads did not make health claims which were not listed as authorised on the EU Register.

One of Sophie Kasaei's adverts received a complaint. Credit: PA
Influencers earn money by advertising products on social media. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Victoria Fox, an influencer and make-up artist from Cardiff, warns that people need to be aware of misleading posts online.

Last month, the CEO of Instagram told CBS This Morning, the platform will test hiding the “like” count on posts.

Adam Mosseri told the American TV programme that the company is "rethinking the whole experience" of Instagram with "wellbeing" as its top priority.

Jessica tries to show different aspects of her life on social media. Credit: Jessica Davies
Credit: ITV Cymru Wales