Social media influencers must use terms like advertisement, ad, sponsored, collaboration in endorsements

The term must be indicated as a hashtag or headline text when an influencer makes posts in partnerships with brands

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Celebrities and influencers, who are endorsing products and services on social media platforms, should disclose their material interest by using words like advertisement, sponsored, collaboration or paid promotion.

In January, the government made it mandatory for social media influencers to disclose their "material" interest in endorsing products and services and violations can attract strict legal action, including a ban on endorsements.

In an official statement, the department of consumer affairs said it has observed that there is confusion regarding which disclosure word to use for what kind of partnership.

For paid or barter brand endorsement, any of the following disclosures can be used: "advertisement", "ad," "sponsored", "collaboration", or "partnership".

However, the term must be indicated as a hashtag or headline text.

The department has already released a set of guidelines called "Endorsements Know-hows!" for celebrities, influencers, and virtual influencers on social media platforms.

The guidelines aim to ensure that individuals do not mislead their audiences when endorsing products or services and that they are in compliance with the Consumer Protection Act and any associated rules or guidelines.

"The guidelines state that endorsements must be made in simple, clear language, and terms such as 'advertisement', 'sponsored', 'collaboration' or 'paid promotion' can be used," the statement said.

Individuals must not endorse any product or service that they have not personally used or experienced or in which due diligence has not been done by them, it added.

The guidelines specify that individuals or groups who have access to an audience and the power to affect their audiences' purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand, or experience, because of the influencer's/celebrity's authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience, must disclose.

The disclosure must be placed in the endorsement message in a manner that is clear, prominent, and extremely hard to miss.

"Disclosures should not be mixed with a group of hashtags or links. For endorsements in a picture, disclosures should be superimposed over the image enough for viewers to notice," the statement said.

For endorsements in a video or a live stream, disclosures should be made in both audio and video format and displayed continuously and prominently during the entire stream.

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