At the beginning of June, new laws from the National Media Council came into effect to regulate the blogging and influencer industry in the UAE.
Part of the law states that anyone who accepts money to promote brands or products online will need to secure an e-commerce licence.
So, Instagram ‘fluencers’ getting paid need to get their books in order and failure to comply will result in an AED5,000 fine or their platform could be shut down.
The new laws drew a mixed response
Many applauded the new measures, which aim to keep the UAE up-to-date with changes in digital media while enhancing content and ensuring UAE values are upheld.
While there was some criticism at the price of the licences, (two licences totaling AED30,000 are needed) as the cost prices micro bloggers out of the market, and many worried at the uncertainty that surrounded the law.
A recent Dubai story tarnished the blogging industry
This week a story went viral about an unnamed blogger who approached Akiba Dori, a popular D3 restaurant, for a review. The restaurant owner accepted the request; media/bloggers are invited to review the restaurant with a set menu and may bring a guest. This is standard.
The blogger replied with a message that you can only perceive as threatening to a business.
According to a series of tweets published by the owner, the blogger responded stating they do not get refused at restaurants across the world, and with one review, they can ensure no blogger visits the restaurant….
Sure, this blogger was not asking to be paid, but they would be accepting goods in kind for a service – it’s borderline stuff and in what world is this behaviour acceptable?
The story thoroughly damages the reputation of genuine bloggers
I’m a use based microblogger myself. But that’s just ridiculous ! Cheap shot by the blogger. Wanted a party for free. Rubbish.
— Rujoom Qamar ???????? (@RujQmr) July 9, 2018
Shady labelling of sponsored posts is rife
I DO believe bloggers hold influence, aside from the shady creatures purchasing followers, post engagement doesn’t lie. And with online advertising spend only increasing, bigger brands will turn more and more to individuals with big numbers and niche audiences.
What I don’t agree with is the deceptive way sponsored posts are labelled..
In too many cases influencers are quite clearly deceiving their followers, not tagging a post as sponsored, and sometimes even hiding any indication that a post is sponsored.
Don’t fool your fans
The Director general of the National Media Council, General HE Mansour Al Mansouri noted in May, ‘it’s the responsibility of the advertiser not to fool the audience,’ and while the law remains murky regarding the difference between advertising and endorsement, paid posts should be clearly marked.
Facebook and Instagram both have inbuilt systems to simply tag posts as paid.
Label your posts as sponsored, your followers will thank you for it.