France moves forward with influencer bill cracking down on risky products and more

The lower chamber of the French parliament, the National Assembly, passed a cross-party bill that aims to introduce some new requirements for social media influencers. This is a preliminary vote as the bill will move to the Senate, but there’s a high probably that it will be adopted in a few weeks as all the 49 deputies who were present at the National Assembly voted in favor of the bill.

This bill has been in negotiations for a while as Aurélien Taché, a deputy from the French green party, submitted a draft law back in November 2022. According to him, many influencers promote scams because there aren’t any negative consequence. Around the same time, French rapper Booba also started calling out scammers/influencers on social networks, which led to some widespread media coverage.

The French government itself then started looking at this topic with the Ministry of the Economy conducting a public consultation to better understand the stakes. More recently, Arthur Delaporte and Stéphane Vojetta — a socialist deputy and a deputy from Emmanuel Macron’s party, respectively — then submitted another draft bill that would turn all this back and forth into an actual piece of legislation (with the government’s support).

The result is today’s bill, which first defines what a paid influencer is. It’s someone who leverages their reputation to share content that promotes a product or a service in exchange for money or a benefit-in-kind. Influencers who meet these criteria will have to comply with new rules.

A big change that is going to have a significant impact on influencer content is that influencers will have to disclose if they are using a filter or if their face and/or body have been photoshopped. This mention has to be visible at all time on the photo or video itself.

With these constraints, the French parliament doesn’t want to punish influencers. It wants to protect social media users from mental health issues, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia or depression.

The bill then lists some things that an influencer cannot do. In particular, if the bill passes, influencers won’t be able to promote cosmetic surgery, financial products and services (including cryptocurrencies) and counterfeit products.

In some cases, influencers can still promote products and services like before, but they need to add an informational banner about the risks involved. That new restriction applies to betting and gambling services, as well as video games that have features that could be considered as betting or gambling.

If they are promoting a training program, they will have to name the training company behind it. Influencers will also have to be more transparent with dropshipping products. For instance, influencers can’t promote products that don’t meet the European certification requirements as those products shouldn’t be sold in Europe in the first place.

When influencers accept a paid promotion, they will have to state clearly that it’s a paid promotion. If they fail to meet these requirements they will face up to six months in prison and a fine of €300,000. So it’s clear that influencers and media agencies will pay attention to these new restrictions.

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