LONDON: British MPs have called for more protection and tougher legislation for social media influencers, particularly “kidfluencers” and their followers.
A new report published by the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee argues that the rise of influencer culture has exposed online icons and their followers to harm and exploitation.
While noting that influencer culture brought significant benefits to the UK creative industries and the economy, DCMS Committee Chairman Julian Knight said: “If you dig below the shiny surface of what you see on screen you will discover an altogether murkier world, where both the influencers and their followers are at risk of exploitation and harm online.”
He added: “Child viewers, who are still developing digital literacy, are in particular danger in an environment where not everything is always as it seems, while there is a woeful lack of protection for young influencers who often spend long hours producing financially lucrative content at the direction of others.”
The report revealed that many child influencers’ accounts on YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram are run and managed by their parents, raising concerns that the children were being exploited to make money.
The committee said it had heard concerns from witnesses that some children are being used by parents to capitalize on the lucrative child and family influencing market.
The committee called on the British government to strengthen employment and advertising laws to protect children, both influencers and consumers.
Knight said: “The explosion in influencer activity has left the authorities playing catch-up, and exposed the impotence of advertising rules and employment protections designed for a time before social media was the all-encompassing behemoth it has become today.
“This report has held a mirror up to the problems which beset the industry, where for too long it has been a case of lights, camera, inaction.
“It is now up to the Government to reshape the rules to keep pace with the changing digital landscape and ensure proper protections for all.”
The committee added that children, parents and schools must be given more support in developing media literacy.
Other recommendations include launching an investigation into influencer pay and giving advertising regulators more power to enforce the law around advertising.