Social media influencers: Practical solution found to address-sharing issue

Social media influencers: Practical solution found to address-sharing issue
Social media platform Instagram. Credit: Belga/ Bruno Fahy

A solution has been found to the issue regarding a new rule that would oblige influencers to publicly share their home addresses, which kicked up a storm earlier this year.

In line with a European directive covering those who advertise online and are paid for it, influencers in Belgium were required to share their addresses on social media for transparency reasons, a matter that was contested by several parties involved and resulted in the enforcement of the regulation being postponed until a solution was found that protects their private lives.

A "pragmatic" solution has now been found which gives influencers a practical way to comply with the regulations without having to expose their home address on their channel in the process, Eva De Bleeker, State Secretary for Consumer Protection, announced on Wednesday morning.

"We worked out a practical and feasible solution that ensures that influencers no longer have to reveal their home address while continuing to guarantee consumers' rights. Those who feel short-changed as consumers will still know where to turn," she said.

As part of the solution, De Bleeker looked to the regulations of business centres. Two business federations, BeCommerce and Feweb, will each open a business centre where influencers can set up shop virtually. They can then list that business address on their social media channels.

Outdated legislation

A European Directive dating back to 2000 stated that online businesses must provide their business address clearly and directly on the channel on which they communicate — in the case of influencers, this largely concerns social media channels — to ensure anyone doing business online is as approachable and traceable as someone doing business offline.

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However, when the Economic Inspectorate started enforcing these regulations more strictly this summer, many influencers spoke out about it, saying they were worried about their privacy, as most operate from their home address. De Bleeker recognised that this was a case of old rules wringing with new phenomena.

She noted that she will raise the matter at a European level to strike a balance between traceability and privacy, but that this solution will remain in place until the EU legislation can be adapted in the longer term.

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