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Penalties for influencers

What sanctions threaten social media celebrities?
Specifications and competition.

To be able to assert themselves on the broad market full of competitors, it is no longer sufficient for companies and brands to advertise the advantages of a product to ensure sales success. Instead, brand ambassadors are used. These are often so-called “influencers.” Mrs. Isabel Frankenberg explains precisely what these are and which laws they have to observe.

The term “influencer” goes back to the English verb “to influence.” Influencers are persons who influence others based on their behavior and actions. The condition has been known since 2007 and includes mainly public figures such as politicians, artists, actors, athletes, but also bloggers and YouTuber. According to this, completely unknown people can become influencers and earn money through the Internet and social networks.

Influencers are characterized above all by an extensive network, a long range, and a large number of followers. Accordingly, the term is directly related to social networks. The followers regard the influencers as credible and authentic so that they become opinion leaders for third parties. They look like stars to touch and therefore, have a significant influence on the purchase decision of their followers.

This potential has now also been recognized by companies. Companies and brands benefit from the targeted use of opinion leaders. They influence the purchase decision of their target group enormously, which is why advertising by influencers is now regarded as the marketing method of the future and is referred to as influencer marketing. The aim is, among other things, to increase the level of awareness of a company, a brand, or a product.

Despite the comparatively short time since the existence of “influencing,” there is much wind around this topic: high penalties, warnings, and much more. As an advertising agency, DeSight Studio points out the sources of danger.

In influencer marketing, products are sponsored by the company and made available to the influencer to promote via social media. However, these contributions must also be recognized as such. If this is not the case, the donation is regarded as disguised advertising and can lead to high penalties.

The reason for this is the advertising regulations in force in Germany, such as the Act against Unfair Competition (UWG) and the Telemedia Act (TMG). Accordingly, advertising must be recognizable as such. If this is not the case or if there is another infringement, competitors may, among other things, assert claims for injunctive relief, information or damages.

If, for example, private advertising is involved, the influencer must expect a fine of up to 500,000 euros. The same applies in the absence of a broadcasting license. Anyone who violates the art copyright law also receives a fine or even a prison sentence of up to one year. The punishment of commercial copyright infringement is even more severe. In addition to a fine, this can also result in imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Also, each social media platform is subject to different rules and regulations that users must adhere to. If one of these regulations is violated, the respective account will be blocked.

About the Berufsverband der Rechtsjournalisten e.V.

The BvdR. E.V. is the union of right journalists and attorneys from Germany, who publish legal contributions to most diverse topics on the portals arbeitsvertrag.org, scheidung.org, abmahnung.org, and rechtsanwaltfachangestellte.org.

The association was founded in August 2015 by the lawyer Mathis Ruff in Berlin.  The overriding goal is to create comprehensive information portals on which interested citizens can obtain information about all relevant areas of law in Germany. Also, a Germany-wide lawyer directory is being set up and maintained. At this point, the association sees itself exclusively as an information platform and therefore does not offer any legal advice.

Professional association of the right journalists registered the association.

The Berufsverband der Rechtsjournalisten e.V. created this guest article and published by DeSight Studio GmbH. The BvDR registered association is the union of right journalists and attorneys from Germany, who publish legal contributions to most diverse topics on the portals anwalt.org, scheidung.org, abmahnung.org, and rechtsanwaltfachangestellte.org.

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