German court rules against hidden brand advertising in Instagram photos

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-22 02:45:29|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, March 21 (Xinhua) -- German social media influencer Pamela Reif will in future not be allowed to link any brands in her Instagram photos without marking this as advertising, according to a decision by the regional court in Karlsruhe on Thursday.

"The commercial purpose must be identified," the judge said. Reif would have to label any posts with links to the respective brands as advertising, even if she was not paid for the picture. Reif's predominantly young followers were easy to be influenced and therefore needed protection, the court said.

With more than 4 million followers, 22-year-old Pamela Reif from Karlsruhe is a major German influencer on social media. Reif's Instagram posts, which were the subject of the dispute, consisted of a photograph of Reif with an accompanying text.

If clicked on, so-called tags appeared in the photo which contained the brand of the clothing or accessories Reif was wearing. Clicking on these links would take the person to the Instagram account of the respective brand manufacturer.

At the start of the trial in January, the German influencer had rejected the accusation of hidden advertising. From her point of view, it was only advertising if she was paid for wearing and presenting the clothes.

The presiding judge at the time had countered that when such a well-known person appeared on Instagram, it was difficult to distinguish between business and private. "Whoever decides to earn money with Instagram is deprived of the opportunity to use it for private purposes," he said.

Under German law, it is illegal to engage in marketing if "it is not directly apparent from the circumstances" that the act has a marketing purpose and if the person who sees the act takes "a transactional decision which he would not otherwise have taken".

The decision on Thursday by the first chamber of commercial matters in Karlsruhe was not final and the influencer's lawyer already announced that the Instagram star would be appealing the court's verdict.