Social Media: How can we protect child influencers?

The increasing influencer community is incredibly easy to join – all you need is a social media account. This means that anyone, even a child, can now become an influencer with next to no regulatory hoops to jump through! How do we protect child influencers?

However, while the ease of participation is to be applauded, it is also quite concerning. Very few national laws have different rules for children and adult influencers, even though most of us would agree that children need more protection.

In France, this is hoped to change with its proposed child influencer laws.

Protecting Children

In an innovative move, the French Assembly recently adopted a new law to regulate what it calls child influencers.

The new bill adopted by the French National Assembly is intended to regulate any influencers that are children. It aims to protect and promote the interests of the child. Often (though of course not always) it is not the child who decides to become an influencer, but their parent. The new law recognises that children behind seemingly fun and innocent adverts can be victims – where they do not receive pay or recognition for their work as adults do.

Employment Relationships

In order to protect children influencers, two schemes have been put in place. In the first scheme, if children are clearly identified as having an employment relationship with the companies and products they are promoting, the children will be considered in a similar way to child actors. This means that, while they are allowed to work, special rules will be applied to ensure their safety. Their wages would be placed at the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, a body which already existed before this new law. The body already keeps the income of child actors until they reach adulthood, to ensure that they are not exploited. Now, the wages of child influencers will be kept here too.

Placing the Onus on Parents

The second scheme will apply where the employer-employee relationship is not so clear. In these cases, parents must declare their children as influencers if the child exceeds the allowed threshold for spending time promoting products, and the allowed income earned by the videos. Then, the same protections that child actors in France are afforded will come into play. In order to ensure that parents follow the rules, they will be fined €75,000 if they are found not to have complied.

Ensuring Protection

Does this proposed protection go far enough? Some argue that more needs to be done to protect children online, and especially those in the influencer community.

By focusing in on the right to be forgotten and ensuring that the content children influencers place online will not be kept there forever. Some argue that video distribution platforms are not doing enough to protect children.

Perhaps we should go even further and ban child influencers until we consider them “old enough” to choose such a career, i.e., when they are able to understand the risks and consequences of living in the public eye?

What do you think?

Is it important for children to be able to participate with other children online, or are we allowing those who see an opportunity of income to exploit them too easily? Are you ever persuaded to buy products advertised by child influencers, or do you follow their accounts?

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