Don't believe all the Latvian influencer hype

After checking the content of 18 Instagram "influencers", all were found to have some form of advertising standards violation, most of which were not disclosing paid advertising, according to the Consumer Rights Protection Centre (PTAC) on March 9.

“The number of influencers is huge. If we declared that now we're somehow going to deal with all of them and make them liable – that definitely doesn't represent the truth, nor our abilities,” said PTAC 2nd Consumer Collective Interests' Division Director Dainis Platacs.

There were also several instances of misleading advertising, but no fines were imposed. PTAC informed the violators and gave them suggestions for fixing the problem. According to a recent  PTAC press release, the institution created an Instagram account in an attempt to communicate with influencers via direct message. Unfortunately in many cases the messages were either ignored, or the PTAC account was simply blocked.

“The idea is to pay special attention to those with a lot of followers. And if we find substantial violations then we have to reckon that for those involved in this year's project as well, there's a great possibility that administrative acts will be issued that create a legal obligation to cease the violation. The issue of applying fines could also be resolved,” said Platacs.

As previously reported, Latvian social media influencers still remain small compared to international influencers follower-wise, but the growing industry is not being properly monitored and regulated, and as a result Latvian Instagram influencers are going unpunished for violating the Unfair Commercial Practices Prohibition Law.

More than 220,000 people use the Instagram social network in Latvia every month, which is more than watch the most popular news shows. If we leave out such international celebrities as basketball superstar Kristaps Porziņģis, most local influencers only qualify as nano-influencers, but get paid to advertise nonetheless. Arguably, their relative accessibility in a nation of just 2 million people makes them in some ways more influential than might be the case among international celebrities, for example.

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