Six influencers who bought fake likes and fake followers on a large scale were addressed by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). It is forbidden to make such purchases because it misleads consumers. These influencers, who are not mentioned by name, have stopped doing so, the ACM says.
At the beginning of this year, the watchdog pointed out to tens of thousands of buyers of fake likes and fake followers that they are misleading consumers. Companies or influencers that still do so risk a fine.
Also addressed to sellers
ACM also says it has addressed providers of fake likes and fake followers. It is not clear how many providers are involved. According to the watchdog, they have promised to stop the sale.
The six influencers are active in sectors such as fashion, lifestyle, fitness, food and art. “Consumers must be able to rely on the information they see online,” says ACM board member Cateautje Hijmans. “Companies or influencers that sell stuff are not allowed to use fake likes or fake followers to make their profile appear reliable or popular.” She says she hopes they realize that “pimping” your profile in this way “is not acceptable”.
The fake likes and fake followers are offered for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. This allows influencers to manipulate their image, giving consumers the impression that individuals or companies are more popular than they actually are.
Billion damage worldwide
Two years ago, ACM already investigated the purchase of these likes and followers. At the time, international research showed that the damage caused by this fake marketing to online advertisers was estimated at 1.2 billion euros worldwide.
“An influencer often determines the rates of an advertisement based on the reach. For example, if it has 200,000 followers, but it is only 50,000 real people, then the advertiser pays extra for nothing,” the ACM said at the time.
Last year, the watchdog also forced an influencer to stop using fake likes behind a webshop for nutritional supplements. This happened for the first time in the Netherlands.
By the way, buying fake likes and followers for personal use is not seen as misleading consumers. But the ACM warns that in most cases the rules of the platform are being violated.