The Guidelines on Commercial Advertisement and Unfair Commercial Practices of Social Media Influencers (“Guidelines”) have been published by the Advertisement Board on May 4, 2021. We had published a short legal assessment regarding the advertisements published by social media influencers in the past.
With these Guidelines, the term “social media influencer” is defined by a legal text for the first time. Accordingly, a social media influencer is defined as a person conducting marketing communications to sell or rent a product or a service of their own or belonging to the advertising third party, to inform or to convince the target audience via their social media accounts.
Obligations of Social Media Influencers
The Guidelines bring forth several new obligations for social media influencers (“influencers”) while maintaining the already existing rules for commercial advertisement and unfair commercial practices. Accordingly, as the general rule, it is stated that the influencers are subject to provisions of the Law on Protection of Consumers no. 6502 (“Law”) and the Regulation on Commercial Advertisement and Unfair Commercial Practices (“Regulation”), just as any other persons providing goods or services to the consumers are.
Accordingly, the social media influencers cannot:
- Share posts regarding products or services they have not experiences themselves while creating an impression to the contrary among the consumers.
- Make health declarations with regards to the product or service.
- Make assertations regarding the unquantifiable or subjective scientific research or test results on the product or service.
- Refer to health services provided by physicians, dentists, or veterinaries.
- Create the impression that the influenced product or service is bought by themselves even though they were gifted by the advertising third party.
- Create the impression that they themselves are a consumer of the influenced product or services, even though they are commissioned by the advertising third party.
Advertisements on Video Sharing Platforms
The Guidelines state that video sharing platforms such as Youtube or IGTV are subject to special provisions since they allow live streaming. Accordingly, in a live video, the influencer shall inform the consumers without making them click on “read more” that the video contains an advertisement for the products or services of a third party by one of the following declarations:
- “This video contains the advertisement of [advertising third party].”
- “This video contains a paid collaboration with [advertising third party].”
- “With the contribution of the [advertising third party].”
- “These products were gifted by [advertising third party].”
- “I thank [advertising third party] for sending me these products.”
Advertisements on Photo or Message or Snap Sharing Platforms
For the post shared on photo or message sharing platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, the influencer shall include at least one of the following declarations containing the information on the name, trademark, trade name belonging to the advertising third party:
- “with the collaboration of @[advertising third party].”
- “provided by @[advertising third party].”
- “gifted by @[advertising third party].”
Obligations of the Advertising Third Party
The Guidelines also include some obligations for the advertising third party as well. Accordingly, the advertising party shall inform the influencers of the rules set forth by the Guidelines, Law and Regulation. Furthermore, it should also be advised that if the influencer seeks the help of other third parties for the advertisement, these persons shall also abide by these rules.
The advertising third party shall also make sufficient efforts to ensure that the influencer fulfils their obligations, and they shall take necessary precautions against breach of these obligations by the influencer.
It goes without saying that, as merchants, the advertising third party is also subject to the rules of unfair competition, commercial advertisement and unfair commercial practices stated in the Law and the Regulation.
It is promising that Turkey acknowledges the existence and impact of the social media influencers on fair commercial practices and the competition in the market. Newly implanted rules are similar to those enforced by other jurisdictions of the world. Such unified approach facilitates the advertisement of products or services across the globe. However, the effective enforcement of these rules are yet to be seen, as they will be revealed by the case by case approach of the Advertisement Board.