France completes law regulating influencers: From labels on filtered images to ban on advertising cosmetic surgery | International


France is finalizing legislation aimed at regulating the commercial activities of influencers and protecting consumers from fraud and possible fraud. The regulation, which has already been approved by Congress and the Senate, bans the promotion of cosmetic surgery and participation in sports betting applications. It will also require influencers to state whether they have been paid to promote their products, whether their images have been retouched, or whether a person’s body shape or face was created with the help of artificial intelligence. . Breaking the rules can result in up to two years in prison, a fine of €300,000 ($320,000), and a ban on commercial activity on social media.

The bill, prepared by both government and opposition lawmakers, aims to put protective measures in the burgeoning sector. Influencers reach millions of followers and are encouraged to consume content ranging from beauty and travel tips to stock and crypto investment recommendations. Proponents of the bill have warned that this new digital marketing based on “fake intimate” relationships with consumers is leading to abusive advertising practices.

In their explanatory statement, lawmakers cite examples such as promoting alleged cancer “drugs” and cosmetics that cause hair loss. “The world of influence must not become a lawless zone,” said Arthur Delaporte of the Socialist Party and Stéphane Vojetta of the Renaissance (RE) party led by French President Emmanuel Macron, in a document.

Vojetta explained to EL PAÍS that the law has two sides. “It was determined that there are certain rules, prohibitions and obligations that should not only ensure respect for current law, i.e., the rules that currently exist in respect of advertising, but should also be strengthened, in particular in terms of transparency.” ”

Filter warnings and wildlife bans

The bill builds on current French legislation that severely regulates the advertising of products such as tobacco and alcohol. Current law requires advertising to be transparent, but the new bill would require influencers to post banners to indicate that their posts are sponsored.

Influencers should also indicate if filters are used. An amendment added by the Senate would require social media users to state whether a person or face was created by AI. Vojetta hopes these rules will prevent young people from being “dominated by unrealistic bodily expressions.”

The bill also bans the promotion of certain financial products such as cosmetic surgery, “therapeutic abstinence” (discontinuation of treatment), and cryptocurrencies by influencers. Paid partnerships for gambling are only permitted on platforms that are off-limits to minors. The bill also bans the exploitation of wild animals such as bears and lion cubs.

The bill provides a legal definition of an influencer, defining it as a person who “directly or indirectly promotes goods, services, or any cause” for financial gain. Both brands and influencers are responsible for what content is posted, and their relationship must be regulated by contract. Influential persons residing outside the European Union must appoint a legal representative in the EU and take out civil insurance.

15 agents to crack down on violations

The bill also strengthens the responsibilities of platforms, requiring them to have tools to report illegal content and take action, such as closing accounts or moderating content, if necessary.

From September, a department in the Ministry of Economy will also be responsible for monitoring social networks and responding to complaints. Initially, the team will consist of 15 agents. Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on May 3 that the ministry had already stepped up its controls. About 60% of the 50 influencers surveyed in the first quarter of 2023 were in violation, he said.

All that remains is to define the final text of the bill, which has already been voted on by the National Assembly and the Senate. Lawmakers hope it will be enacted before the summer and protect both consumers, especially young people, and influencers. Authorities estimate there are around 150,000 influencers in France, but only a minority of them cheat or commit fraud.

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