EU Commission study reveals problems with advertising and marketing practices on social media

Source: EU Commission

Study can be found online here.

The European Commission today published a study that identifies unfair and manipulative advertising and marketing practices on social media. 

Evidence collected shows that consumers are often not aware about the way social media providers target them for marketing purposes. For example, one third of the participants surveyed were unaware of the commercial nature of native advertising, i.e. paid ads in an online publication which resemble the publication's editorial content. Conversely, consumers usually are able to quickly recognise a typical magazine advertisement. 

Likewise, two thirds of consumers are misled by a common practice on Facebook, which consists of showing “likes” from their friends next to other products than those that they had actually “liked”. Practices forbidden under the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Blacklist such as false offers and false prize winning competitions were also found to be commonplace. 

Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “This study brings evidence for concerns we already had about social media advertising. Some of the techniques used are unfair and manipulative and we would simply not allow them in the offline world. I will bring this case to the attention of national consumer authorities who will see whether coordinated EU level action is necessary. Offline or online, companies must not unfairly trick consumers. They need to fully respect EU consumer rules.” 

Last week, Commissioner Jourová and national consumer authorities met with Airbnb and Facebook to take stock of the progress made on two ongoing consumer enforcement actions.

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