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Instagram to cram ‘hidden’ advertising

UK regulators said in a statement on Friday that Facebook (FB) agreed to changes that would make it “harder” for people to post ads on his Instagram platform without putting a label on them. Restrictions apply to all Instagram users worldwide, but the platform will only report on how it tracks against UK commitments.

“For too long, major platforms have stopped taking responsibility for hidden advertising on their site,” said Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

“These changes mean there will be no reason for businesses to ignore how their brands are advertised – making life harder for the uninitiated and loyal to their followers,”

; Coscelli added.

Social media influencers with thousands of followers often earn a fee from companies to promote their products. Many businesses and major global brands are allocating a growing portion of their influencer marketing advertising budgets, specifically reaching younger consumers who may not watch television or read newspapers.

More than 90% of Instagram users follow a business or brand, according to the platform.

The CMA said it was investigating whether too many influencers posted content about businesses without clarifying where they were paid or incentive to do so, amid concerns that the platform was not doing enough to solve the problem.

UK consumer protection law dictates that paid posts are clearly labeled “so that people are not misled,” the CMA said.

Instagram will now motivate users to confirm if they are incentive to promote a product or service and, if so, they need to disclose it. The “paid partnership” tool, which adds labels to posts, will be extended to all users, and will use algorithms to detect unlabeled sponsored posts and report them to businesses being promoted, the CMA said.

Instagram will also create a tool for businesses to help them track how their products are promoted so they can ask the platform to remove posts as needed.

A spokesman for Facebook told CNN Business that it is “pleased to work with the CMA in our ongoing efforts to help people be clear about when they are paid to post content on Instagram.” The spokesperson said Facebook will regularly report to the CMA on enforcement measures regarding UK users.

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