New UAE laws aim to regulate social media influencers

The UAE has created new regulations to scrutinise the way social media influencers accept payment from brands and agencies in order to bring transparency and tighter controls.

The UAE’s National Media Council (NMC) has announced new measures to regulate the swiftly expanding online world of paid social media, reports Arab News. Influencers, working across a variety of platforms will be forced to obtain an e-media license, plus a trade license if they do not have an agency.

Regulation against misuse of influence

Tanaz Dizadji, founder and CEO of Brand Ripplr which connects influencers with brands across the MENA region, is in favour of the move. “For too long, the industry has been unregulated, and it is only right that the NMC has sought to protect both consumers and brands from the misuse of influencer marketing,” he said.

Dizadji believes it is a question of when, rather than if, the rest of the GCC will follow the UAE’s bold move. “Whether other GCC countries will follow the UAE licensing approach is yet to be seen, but transparency of paid posts will certainly be demanded. It will become the norm.”

Over 500 licenses have now been issued to social media influencers, influencer agencies and online media companies. The NMC has informed both government departments and private sector companies to work only with licensed influencers.

People who blog merely as a pastime will not be required to gain a license. However any influencer receiving payment for promoting a brand or goods will need to obtain a license. These are available in three categories and cost about 15,000 dirhams ($4,000).

The license needs to be renewed yearly and penalties for failure include fines of up to 5,000 dirhams, official warnings, and could possibly end in closing accounts or websites.

“The new regulations promote and develop an advanced legislative and regulatory environment for the UAE media sector, keeping it up to speed with technological developments that have transformed media,” said NMC director-general Mansour Ibrahim Al-Mansouri.

Social media influencers join agencies

Many influencers have chosen to join agencies such as Vamp and Brand Ripplr, so they can be covered under their own e-media license

Vamp was the first official influencer agency given permission to cover influencers exclusively registered with the platform. It now has over 400 influencers eligible to operate under the new agency license.

“Media bodies all over the world are watching how these new licenses will affect the social media landscape for influencers in the UAE,” said Karl Mapstone, Vamp’s business director. “Whether this affects their own regulations remains to be seen.”

He believes the new regulations “create transparency” between the brand, influencer and their followers, which helps build trust. “The new guidelines help influencers and anyone representing brands by making what is expected from them very clear,” he added.

Image: Twitter @sarah_wad3ani1

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