JOB. Influencers, Scammers and Millions of Views: How Internet Stars Sell Their Dreams That Turn into Nightmares

Become social media stars, young influencers, content creators, mentor thousands of fans. Food, cosmetics or online betting, commercial promotion that can turn into a scam and a nightmare for thousands of subscribers who believe in the beautiful promises of these dream traders.

Fame, money, beauty… Social networks are filled with promises served by cheerful young people. Becoming stars on the Internet, they film themselves all day and post their colorful “stories” on Instagram or Snapchat. Their job? Influencers or content creators. They are followed by thousands of fans aged 16-30 seeking advice in all areas: fashion, cosmetics, food, investing or betting online.

The law is void

For advertisers, these high-profile “prescribers 2.0” are ideal “customers” to promote their products, talk about their brand, extol the virtues of a miracle cream, a pair of sneakers or a juicy financial investment. Behind the scenes, it’s a bit of a “win-win”: influencers focus on the popularity rating, which easily surpasses the quarter hour of celebrity popularized by Andy Warhol in the late 60s, and they have advertisers on their side. it guarantees very wide media exposure for its products, ideal for increasing sales.

But beware of mirages and cascading disappointment behind the beautiful promises of these dream sellers. Especially since the influence marketing boom is taking advantage of the legal loophole to thrive under the noses and beards of legislators who are helpless against the tide. Today, some of the stars of this flourishing market are accused of promoting a product without having the required qualifications or legal permits.

Also read:
Social networks: 60% of influencers ‘targeted’ by Fraud Control are ‘abnormal’.

Recently, two collective complaints (88 joint complaints) were filed with the Paris prosecutor’s office for “fraud and breach of trust”. According to the complainants, they target Marc and Nadé Blata, a well-known influential couple whose risky investments are the followers of promoting financial products that are the source of fraud and huge monetary losses. according to Me Alexander Dakos, one of the lawyers of these injured investors quoted in “Le Monde” magazine, estimated that “thousands of investors lost from a few hundred to 100,000 euros” in these projects, and the total loss was 6.3 million euros.

One of these accused products was offered through investment platforms to imitate the stock transactions of professional traders in the hope of enriching their portfolio (copytrading). The Dubai-based couple, who have become targets of complaints, do not admit their wrongdoing. This Thursday, American social media giant Meta announced that it had shut down the couple’s Instagram account, “as well as others affected,” under pressure from a victims’ support group.

“Misleading business practice”

In 2021, reality TV star Nabilla Benattia-Vergara, followed by thousands of subscribers, was arrested by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) for misleading advertising practices. He was fined 20,000 euros for not disclosing that he was paid for promoting stock products on Snapchat.

However, “failure to indicate the advertising nature of its publication (eg with a logo or verbal or written mention) constitutes a deceptive commercial practice towards its subscribers,” Fraud Enforcement said on its website. Sixty influencers were targeted. Since 2021, every 10 6 out of people did not follow the rules related to advertising and consumer rights.

Also read:
Social media influencers: government wants good code of conduct

Today there are 150,000 influencers in France. Among them, 6% will earn more than 20,000 euros per year in this vast consumer jungle. Therefore, there is a need to clarify the legal framework of the influence market in France, especially by combating misleading and illegal commercial practices. This is the subject of a bill signed by many MPs and tabled by ecologist Aurelien Tache. It could be learned in April.

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