Influencers and Social Media Recommender Systems: Unfair Commercial Practices in US and EU Law

Research project

Catalina Goanta


Social media influencers are peers who advertise goods and services on social media, with a view to persuading their followers to purchase the objects of their ads. With social media advertising being one of the main outlets in the contemporary advertising business, this trend is here to stay. On the one hand, this development has received some recent attention with respect to the dishonesty problems it poses when influencers to not disclose their endorsements. On the other hand, influencers themselves are subject to harsh market conditions, since they depend on social media platforms to reach out to their fan base and increase it. Pivotal in this process are the algorithms used by social media platforms to disseminate the influencers’ original content. These algorithms can be changed by companies like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube unilaterally and over night, leaving Youtubers & co little to do when they cannot optimize their followers according to a more organic reach. This project looks into the factual practices of recommender systems affecting social media influencers on various platforms and answers the question of under which conditions these practices can be considered unfair under US law and EU law.