Instagram Commits to Fighting Hidden Ads Amid UK Probe

Illustrations Of Facebook Inc.'s Instagram As App Changes Its Look

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc.’s Instagram will change the way users post advertisements as part of a wider probe by the U.K. competition watchdog into combating misleading online ads.

Facebook has committed to this “important behavior shift” following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, the regulator said in a statement Friday. The changes will make it “much harder” for users to post ads without labeling them as such.

Instagram committed to prompting users “to confirm if they have been incentivized in any way to promote a product or service and, if so, require them to disclose this fact clearly,” the CMA said.

The CMA opened its investigation in 2018, seeking to have adverts clearly labeled to avoid people being misled. A group of British celebrities, such as Ellie Goulding and models including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Alexa Chung, agreed last year to tell shoppers upfront if they are being paid for social media posts.

Failing to label posts properly may lead followers to believe that an endorsement is a star’s own view and to trust a product recommended by someone they admire, the CMA has said previously.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Instagram will have to regularly update the CMA on its progress. The regulator said it will continue to investigate the practices of other social media platforms and push for changes where needed.

The changes will affect users in the U.K. and anyone directing posts toward Instagram users in the country. The regulator said it will continue to investigate the practices of other social media platforms and push for changes where needed.

(Updates with background from fourth paragraph)

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