The Consumer Agency has banned two bloggers from using hidden advertisements, Vísir reports. The two bloggers in question are social media influencers Fanney Ingvarsdóttir and Svana Lovísa Kristjánsdóttir, who posted a blog about the Canon EOS M100 camera. The camera was gifted to them by tech company Origo, through the mediating social media agency Sahara Media. Both Origo and Sahara Media have been banned from using this method of advertisement.
The ban originally stems from posts which Svana and Fanney posted on their blog on the bloggers' ensemble website www.trendnet.is. Neither post was marked as an ad or with another clear method of stating that the posts were specifically made for financial gain. It was only stated that the camera was a gift.
The Consumer Agency sent the bloggers a letter where they were ordered to come clear about the posts; among others, in what way Origo assisted with the preparation of the post, whether a third party mediated the blogger's contact with Origo, and whether Origo gifted the bloggers the camera or a payment in any form for the write-up about the camera.
Bloggers claim innocence
Both Svana and Fanney have answered the Consumer Agency's accusations, claiming that they received the camera as a gift, without any obligations. Svana claims that Origo was in no way affiliated with the posts other than showing her how the camera worked. Social media market agency Sahara contacted her pre-emptively, said they were working with Origo and asked whether they could offer her the camera to take better pictures for the blog. Svana says that "didn't receive a krona neither from Sahara nor Origo", and that she stated twice in the post that the camera was a gift. In her answer, she also said that she doesn't take payment for blog posts as it was against the rules of ethics of Trendnet. "It's a privilege to be a blogger. I received gifts every now and then, even gratuitously", she commented. Svana states she has always acted in honesty and marks posts where she has received a gift.
Svana also noted that she puts links in the posts as if she wouldn't do that she would have to "spend the next five months, or longer, answering readers' questions about products on her social media - even through phone calls". Svana stated "It's a lot of work to tag and link to companies, designers or others when the posts are written". Svana also called for a clearer rule work for these kinds of matters.
Fanney's answer is similar, as she states the Canon camera was a gift and no contract existed between her and Origo. She was therefore not obligated to write a post about the camera. After using the camera herself and liking what it had to offer, she decided to post about it. "It was done by my own free will, and by my own initiative without any kind of instruction from the camera's sales agent", Fanney stated. Fanney also stated it was time-saving to link to the camera's seller, Origo. Fanney is often asked what camera she uses for her photos, so she felt it was a logical step to post about the camera.
Fanney also stated that she felt the most effective way to stop these kinds of advertising methods was to contact the company's themselves. She believes the companies should state which influencers they are working with, or to give the influencers which they are working with clear instructions on how to state the material on social media is an advertisement.
Gifts are payments
The decision by The Consumer Agency states that the posts are examples of hidden advertisements. It doesn't matter in what for the payment is, as individuals who receive payment and write about or disperse information about the products and services of companies should always state the posts are advertisements. "The Consumer Agency judges that it should be taken into account that the general consumer does not normally realize that posts are advertising or marketing when the business nature of the posts are not explicitly stated. The Consumer Agency points out that it's not easy to differentiate between a general recommendation, on the other hand, an advertisement as part of a business transaction on the other, even though the name of the product, service, or company, is stated in the blog post", part of the statement read.
The Consumer Agency also stresses that the post should be marked as an advertisement at the beginning of the post, to ensure that the reader knows its an ad from the outset. It has to clearly marked, in big letters. It's not enough to state that is an ad at the end of the post. The bloggers broke several laws on hidden advertisements and have been disbarred from doing so again in the future.
Fanney Ingvars blog - http://trendnet.is/fanneyingvars/
Svana Lovísa Kristjánsdóttir blog - http://trendnet.is/svartahvitu/