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DCA Issues “Endorsements Know-Hows!” Guidelines to Hold Celebrities, Influencers, And Virtual Influencers on Social Media Platforms Accountable  

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Govt issues guidelines to hold influencers responsible_ safeguard consumersA set of guidelines titled “Endorsements Know-Hows!”: For Celebrities, Influencers & Virtual Influencers on Social Media Platforms, has been released by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (MoCA, F&PD).

  • Objective: To guarantee that individuals do not mislead their audiences when endorsing products or services and that they follow the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and any associated rules or guidelines.

The new rules are anticipated to have an impact on India’s Rs. 1,275 crore online endorsement market.

Key Guidelines as mentioned in “Endorsements Know-Hows!”

i.According to the guidelines, endorsements must be expressed in simple, clear language, and terms like “advertisement,” “sponsored,” “collaboration,” or “paid promotion” may be used.

  • Individuals are not allowed to endorse any product or service that they have not personally used or experienced, or for which they have not conducted due diligence.

ii.The terms “advertisement,” “ad,” “sponsored,” “collaboration,” or “partnership” may be used to describe paid or bartered brand endorsements. The term, however, must be expressed as a hashtag or in the headline text.

  • The guideline has been given by the DCA in response to confusion over which disclosure word to use for what kind of partnership.

iii.The guidelines state that individuals or groups who have access to an audience and the power to influence their audiences’ decisions to buy or form opinions on a product, service, brand, or experience as a result of the influencer’s or celebrity’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship to their audience must make a disclosure.

iv.According to the guidelines, the disclosure must be included in the endorsement message in a clear, prominent, and difficult-to-miss manner.

  • Disclosures should not be mixed along with a set of hashtags or links.

v.For endorsements in a picture, disclosures should be superimposed over the image for viewers to notice it.

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

Recommendations for Influencers as Mentioned in The Guidelines

i.Celebrities and influencers are urged by the guidelines to always check and confirm for themselves that the advertiser is capable of backing up the claims made in the advertisement.

ii.Also, it is advised that the endorser has actual usage or experience with the product or service.

iii.Celebrities, influencers, and virtual influencers must follow these guidelines to ensure transparency and authenticity with their audiences.

The Much Needed Initiative:

i.Legal support for disclosure requirements is a much-needed move, as influencer-related violations account for over 30% of the advertisements investigated by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

ii.The MoCA, F&PD stated in January 2023 that advertisers found to be deceiving customers would face fines of up to Rs. 50 lakh.

iii.These influencers may also be refrained from using online platforms for up to 2 years.

Recent Related News:

In January 2023, the Government of India (GoI) introduced a new Integrated Food Security Scheme beginning January 1, 2023, to supply free food grains to more than 81.35 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

According to the MoCA, F&PD, the scheme will also ensure effective and uniform enforcement of the NFSA.

About the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (MoCA, F&PD):

Union Minister – Piyush Goyal (Rajya Sabha – Maharashtra
Minister of State (MoS) – Ashwini Kumar Choubey; Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti
Departments under MoCA, F&PD – Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA); Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD)