New rules to guarantee transparency and protection of minors in the digital world of influencers
On Saturday morning in Rome, in the Ostiense district, there was, if there were still any doubts, clear proof of how much the so-called “influencers” are able to move (physically and otherwise) the impulses and actions of young people (not only ) follower.The event for the inauguration of the Burger store of Cicciogamer 89 (Mirko Alessandrini’s nickname), promised a meeting with the influencer and free hamburgers. However, the initial excitement quickly turned into a long wait and a palpable sense of disappointment. The fans, who came from far away, found themselves faced with a reality very different from their expectations: sold out food and poor organization that left many empty-handed. Despite criticism for insufficient security, disorganized queue control and broken promises, which gave rise to an echo of dissatisfaction on social media, Cicciogamer 89, a YouTuber with 3.6 million subscribers, faced the whirlwind of reactions with gratitude and a commitment to improvement. “You were incredible, we will try to improve the organization. Your affection is priceless,” shared the influencer, recognizing the shortcomings of the event mostly due to the unexpected influx of fans/customers. The case of the Cicciogamer 89 event thus becomes a vivid example of the complexity in the world of digital influence, where the border between viral success and controversy can be very thin and where Oscar Wilde’s maxim “For better or for worse, as long as it is talked about” seems to hover. Because although the success may have been a failure, like it or not we too now know that a Cicciogamer burger store exists, with all due respect to those who queued without receiving anything and suffering from the cold or lack of organisation.
AGCOM, the Communications Regulatory Authority, has taken a significant position to regulate the increasingly influential world of digital influencers. With the unanimous approval of the guidelines on January 10th, the authority aims to enforce the provisions of the Consolidated Law on audiovisual media services. These guidelines place particular emphasis on the transparency and correctness of information, the protection of minors, personal rights and transparency in commercial communications and product placement.
A crucial point of these guidelines is the establishment of an ad hoc Technical Table. This body will be responsible for defining further measures and operational methods to ensure that influencers comply with the rules. Influencers, along with vloggers, streamers, creators and uploaders, who reach at least one million followers on various platforms, or who have an average engagement rate above 2%, will be the main recipients of these new rules. The guidelines state that influencers must avoid the use of subliminal techniques, comply with rules relating to commercial communications, sponsorships, and product placement, and ensure truthful presentation of facts. Furthermore, they must counter online disinformation and respect copyright and intellectual property rules.
In the event of a violation, there are significant fines, which vary depending on the severity and scope of the violation. This highlights the importance that AGCOM attaches to transparency and responsibility in the digital world. The Technical Roundtable, which will involve influencer associations, video sharing platforms, social media and influencer marketing agencies, will have the task of developing codes of conduct to implement further measures. This approach aims to create a safer and more transparent digital environment, in which the rights of consumers and minors are fully protected. In summary, AGCOM, through these guidelines, lays the foundations for a more responsible and aware digital environment, in which influencers are called to play a crucial role. It will be interesting to see how these regulations will affect the digital landscape and whether they lead to a significant change in influencer behavior and consumer perception.