Dubai's retail regulator has warned consumers to think twice before blindly following the lead of an increasing number of social media influencers who promote products and services online.
Social media stars with large numbers of followers are pushing brands in posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – and being paid fortunes for doing so.
Dubai Consumer Protection has advised consumers to be wary about allowing purchasing habits to be persuaded by influencers who may have no information on the products they are promoting.
New regulations were introduced this year requiring anyone promoting products online in the UAE in exchange for payment or benefits must be licensed by the National Media Council.
The DCP posted a video of around 35 seconds on Twitter, showing a woman sitting down to enjoy a croissant in a restaurant, photographing her food and then posting it online before being handed an envelope with payment.
She then gets up and walks off without eating her meal.
“Do not restrict your choices to social media influencers opinion on a product, service or a meal in a restaurant,” the government message said.
“Some of them are paid to advertise convincingly to you. Ask more before you make a purchase.”
The authorities have sought to regulate social media businesses and influencers in recent months, including the need to have a social media licence.
Influencers must have a trade licence and an e-media licence at a cost of about Dh30,000.
National Editorial: Social media influencers should take responsibility