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Australian consumer group calls for government action on social media users who give paid health advice without qualifications

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A new report by a consumer advocacy group is calling on the Australian government to introduce tighter rules for influences. The group claims that influencers are profiting off “misinformation” and “shoddy advice” shared with hundreds of thousands of social media followers.

You can read the report here.

The authors of the report said that social media influencers have been providing “dangerous health and financial advice, despite their lack of qualifications and expertise in these areas.”

One author of the report, Jordan Guiao, said he has seen influencers “promoting extremely damaging conspiracy theories and undermining public health orders.”

He cited a mommy blogger, with hundreds of thousands of followers, who has posted “misinformation” casting doubt on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and the severity of the virus.

The report also mentions a former reality TV actor who has profited off tips on nutrition and fitness and secured several deals from brands, yet they have no official qualifications in those fields.

“Social media influencers are profiting while spreading misinformation and shoddy advice online,” said Guiao to The Feed.

“It is a criminal offence to provide unlicensed medical and financial advice, yet many influencers are doing just that on social media,” he added.

“Like so many disruptive business models, influencer advertising and advice has managed to slip under the regulatory radar.”

The report has called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to enforce stricter regulations for influencer marketing and ensure that qualifications are needed for marketers advertising in the health and finance sectors.

The consumer watchdog can penalize individual advertisers up to $500,000 and $10 million for agencies for violating advertising regulations.

Guiao said: “We think it’s the right time for the government and its regulators to review this space, given that it’s increasingly profitable and affects many thousands of Australians who take influencers’ advice to heart.”

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