Online influencers agree to alter posts after advertising probe

Under a threat of potential jail time, a group of British online influencers including Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora and Zoella have agreed to change how they post online, after their social media profiles were investigated by an advertising watchdog.

Sixteen celebrities, with tens of millions of followers between them, were probed over whether they were posting “misleading” advertisements online — an offense that breaches UK advertising law and carries a potential penalty of two years in prison.

The stars said they will now clearly state whether they have been paid to promote a brand or product, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

Models Alexa Chung, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Iskra Lawrence were among the group pledging to alter their posting habits, alongside a host of British reality TV stars.

Warning letters have also been sent to other, unnamed celebrities, noting that “concerns have been identified” about their posts and urging them to change their practices, the CMA said.

“Influencers can have a huge impact on what their fans decide to buy. People could, quite rightly, feel misled if what they thought was a recommendation from someone they admired turns out to be a marketing ploy,” Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA,