ACCC Social Media Sweep: What To Watch For

The ACCC's no-nonsense crackdown on misleading social media advertising is a wakeup call for brands and influencers alike. Check your content and pages for compliance.

Anita T is an award-winning marketing consultant with 15+ years of experience.

The ACCC crack down on deceptive social media advertising is kicking misleading marketing off the table. Those who have misleading testimonials or those are failing to clearly disclose whether a post has been sponsored by a brand could be flagged, prompting an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

It's not just a warning for influencers, but anyone facilitating misleading content - including the brands themselves or anyone helping run social media campaigns.

A quick checklist:

Do you or a client:

  1. Have misleading testimonials? Eg. Photoshopped before & afters for plastic surgery or gyms. Fix it.
  2. Undeclared social media posts that have been sponsored by a brand? Not cool.
  3. Have OLD posts that are misleading? Including comments made by others on your social media pages. Remove or update what you can.
  4. Fake ratings or reviews? (Eg. purchased reviews)
  5. Fake followers (makes you more likely to be flagged as a scammer)
  6. Statements have a lack of evidence re: health or environmental benefits (Check the AHPRA rules, and the ACCC green marketing rules.
  7. Hide advertising disclosure? You need to make it hell easy to see.
  8. Forget to disclose a sponsor in a short? You still have to.
  9. Work with finfluencers (financial influencers). Follow the ASIC rules.
  10. Send gifts to influencers? That's sponsorship.
  11. Run incentive programs for social influencers? Check your contract requirements are up-to-standard.
  12. Over-promise and under-deliver? If your promised shipping times are off, especially around periods like Black Friday and Christmas, you could be flagged. Keep consumers updated if delivery timeframes change.
  13. Encourage affiliates, or participate in affiliate advertising? Make sure its disclosed.

The ACCC team will continue to identify deceptive marketing practices across the digital economy.

Long story short: be honest & Make sure those you work with are :)

An offence could cost an individual over 2 million dollars.

Industries targeted:

  • Fashion
  • Cosmetics
  • Health & Fitness
  • Gaming
  • Tech businesses
  • Wellbeing
  • Travel
  • Food and beverage

What's prompted the crack down

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report released in April found over 80% of influencer posts are deceptive. It's prompted a progressive pursuit to tackle deceit in advertising through means such as the new national anti-scam center, (NASC) that will work to combat scammy ads, and scammy advertising practices,

If you're working with social influencers, or are being one, just follow the rules and you won't need to worry about it.

Here's a rule summary for ease of reference:

don't make false or misleading claims on social media

Any info posted must be honest, including:

  • Pricing for products and services
  • Imagery and descriptions of products and services
  • Claims about value, benefits, qualities or performance.
  • Info about shipping and delivery times
  • Reviews must be independent and genuine.
  • No greenwashing

Remember, you must be able to prove any claim advertised. Failure to disclose important information can also count as being 'misleading'. For example, claiming a product is limited stock, but it's not. Excluding a product from a store wide sale, but only in the fine print.

Note: exaggerated claims, like saying you're the best plumber in the world, is counted as 'puffery' rather than a lie because it's so exaggerated, nobody could take you seriously.

Social media housekeepinG

  • Set clear rules for how others can post on your pages
  • Display the rules in a prominent place
  • Block users who break the rules about posting
  • Remove and respond to posts, including reviews, that may be false or misleading. Including old posts.

Here's an example of how ACCC themselves display their own terms of use on their Facebook page:

ACCC social media rules
ACCC has its social media terms of use under the 'About' section on Facebook.

Not many brands seem to have their rules prominently displayed on their pages (yet).

Better get onto that.


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