Dutch influencers caught promoting dodgy gambling services; MP’s demand intervention

Oblige influencers to always first investigate the product or service they promote to ensure it is legal and acceptable. Various parliamentarians came with this demand after the newspaper AD reported that influencers were advertising dodgy gambling groups and other illegal services.

According to AD, influencers advertised services where people could buy the “results” of sports matches that hadn’t happened yet in gambling groups on Telegram. According to the service, the matches are fixed, so the victims can use the results to place bets at gambling offices. The results were random guesses, so many victims – primarily young men – lost a lot of money. If they did accidentally win, they were tempted to invest in cryptocurrencies, which were then stolen.

The influencers AD investigated had less than 500,000 followers, so they don’t fall under the Media Act and can’t be fined if they don’t report that a post is an advertisement. Without the “this is an advertisement” warning, the promotional posts looked like actual experiences the influencers had. According to the newspaper, “many of their followers take them extra seriously because of this.”

In parliamentary questions posed to Minister Franc Weerwind for Legal Protection, MPs Michiel van Nispen (SP), Anne Kuik (CDA), and Mirjam Bikker (ChirstenUnie) called it “very harmful” that influencers lure young people “to spend a lot of money in this fake and virtually untraceable system.” They want the Minister to explain how the government can better protect these young people. They suggest an appeal to influencers to stop accepting “promotional activities of scammers.”

D66 parliamentarians Steven van Weyenberg, Hülya Kat, and Jeanet van der Laan want the government to oblige influencers to first investigate what they are promoting. According to them, a check in advance could have prevented “many followers from getting a recommendation for a practice that also shocked the influencers when it became clear that it was complete nonsense.”

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