The rise in social networks has been accompanied by the emergence of a new figure, the influencer. However, the profiles and practices of the 150,000 influencers active on French social networks vary. From unboxing to the promotion of training, via videos of babies dressed in new clothes, this disparity makes it difficult to set up a general framework. What is needed to regulate such different practices at the same time, for example, those implemented by nano-influencers (44% of active influencers in France have less than 5,000 followers), and those by people followed by millions of others?
Judging the existing framework to be unsatisfactory, and while the Ministry of Economics and Finance has just unveiled its Guide to good conduct: influencers and content creators, the National Assembly and the Senate are working on agreeing a common bill,
A currently disparate framework
The proposed law does not fill a legislative void. Various legal texts were already applicable – and still are – against certain abuses by influencers, whether under consumer law (mainly misleading commercial practices) or criminal law, and convictions for fraud have already been handed down. However, the use of some of these provisions may be challenging, particularly when the professional nature of the influencer is a prerequisite for the offence to be characterised.
At the same time, and although they cannot on their own justify a conviction by the courts, ethical rules have been put in place by the French advertising self-regulatory organization (ARPP). This promotes “responsible” influence, upon which the influencers are able to receive a certificate to prove they are willing to follow these guidelines.
Finally, a law passed in October 2020 has already regulated the commercial exploitation of child influencers under the age of sixteen on video platforms.
“French law aims at clearer regulation, both broader and more specific, since it concerns all influencers on all types of platforms, and it explicitly targets commercial influence”.
In order for the law to be definitively adopted, both chambers must agree on a common version of the bill. The text is therefore likely to be modified. To be continued… scrolling social networks in the meantime?