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Consumer watchdog the ACCC hunts for ‘greenwashing’, undisclosed social media influencer ads and fake online reviews

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ACCC deputy chairman Delia Rickard said the online sweep will lead to a review of at least 200 corporate websites in the coming weeks in pursuit of misleading environmental claims.

“As consumers become more interested in buying sustainable products, there are growing concerns that some companies are falsely promoting their environmental or green credentials. Misleading claims about products or services undermine consumer and market confidence” , said ACCC Vice President Delia Rickard.

“This sweep is a core part of our work actively monitoring greenwashing in the marketplace and will help inform what steps companies can take to improve the integrity of their environmental claims.”

At the same time, the ACCC is conducting a similar investigation, targeting false or misleading online reviews and testimonials, monitoring corporate websites, Facebook pages, and third-party review platforms.

At least 100 companies will be rated in this first series, focusing on areas where people rely most on ratings, including home appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty products, food and restaurants, travel services, sports, home improvement, kitchenware, health products, as well as furniture and bedding.

Misleading advertising by social media influencers will be considered in a second attempt to identify posts that do not reveal advertising or sponsorship.

“Unfortunately, consumers are faced with an increasing number of manipulative marketing techniques designed to exploit or pressure them, in part because of the sheer number of information resources available online. Consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when making purchases, but misleading reviews can be harmful,” Rickard said.

The ACCC action comes as celebrity influencer Kim Kardashian has been fined US$1 million (A$1.5 million) by the US regulator’s US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settlement for failing to disclose US$1 million. 250,000 to donate Ethereum Max tokens to its 330 million Instagram followers.

She was banned from promoting cryptocurrencies for three years as part of the settlement with the SEC.


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