There are huge concerns about how social media companies safeguard the privacy of their users’ personal data. TThis follows the fallout from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. The outcome has been a decline in public trust of social media and a massive decline in the value of Snapchat and Facebook shares.
Anyone can create a fake account and secure thousands of paid-for likes and followers for pennies. Scammers can then sign up to influencer agencies and begin receiving fees and free products within days and publishing fake reviews across social media. Unilever CMO Keith Weed recently announced that “the company is pushing for greater transparency in the influencer marketing space to combat fraud in the digital ecosystem” and has committed to only working with influencers and partners who don’t buy followers.
Last year’s Fyre Festival highlighted how easy it is to trick the public into believing the hype, with disastrous consequences. The event, on a luxury Bahamian island promised music from Major Lazer and Blink 182 with gourmet food and drink, had been heavily promoted on Instagram by celebrity influencers Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, as well as 400 successful Instagram influencers who were handpicked by the organisers for their roles as DJs, models, surfers and football players to spread the word. Tickets, costing thousands of dollars, soon sold out. In reality there were no bands, quality accommodation or food – jetsetters were trapped in an abandoned campsite with only cheese sandwiches and poor sanitation on offer.
Brands are learning to select their influencers more carefully – high profile disasters for brands such as Disney, who had to sever ties with influencer PewDiePie over antisemitic videos or influencer Zoella who drew criticism for ripping off millions of fans, have done permanent damage. And high profile ASA Rulings like the one relating to Geordie Shore’s Marnie Simpson highlight how CAP are keen to prevent innocent followers from being mislead by influencers.