From cars and technology to beauty and fashion, influencers in the UAE are supportive of the country’s new social media laws, which they say have helped regulate the industry.
Launched in March, the Electronic Media Regulations law states that online activities, which are carried out for commercial purposes, require a licence from the National Media Council (NMC).
These activities include selling or otherwise dealing in print, video, and audio materials, electronic publishing activities and on-demand printing, specialised websites including news websites and online advertisements and applications.
While not specifically highlighted, the law includes social media activities carried out by influencers such as promoting a product or service online through social media channels and receiving a fee in return.
By contrast, a ‘blogger’ who writes for enjoyment, but does not receive payment or in-kind products and services, is not posting for “commercial purposes” or posting “paid commercials”. Therefore, such bloggers would not require a licence under the new regulations.
Almost a year on after the law was brought in, Gulf News has spoken to popular social media influencers in the UAE about the impact of the law and their thoughts on regulation in the social media industry.
Social media influencers
‘LICENCE GOOD FOR PROFESSIONALS'
Before the law, some companies would reach out to influencers but have no way of guaranteeing if they will deliver
Emirati social media influencer Abdul Aziz, better known as Binbaz said the law is a positive step that has helped regulate the social media industry. The influencer with 4.9 million followers on Instagram, said many people have been taking advantage of social media for personal gain. “Before the law, some companies would reach out to influencers but have no way of guaranteeing if they will deliver. The license limits influencers to those who are professional,” he added.
‘IT WILL RESTRICT INAUTHENTIC ADS’
I got my licence this summer, and it has helped me make the decision to sign with an agent
With over 641,000 followers on Instagram, fashion, beauty and lifestyle, influencer Deema Kawkar said the law was very much needed to identify influencers posting unauthentic ads.
“I got my licence this summer, and it has helped me make the decision to sign with an agent, which has had a great impact on work organisation, invoicing and everything else related to logistics,” she said.
She pointed out the new licence has made it easier for brands to safely select influencers they want to work with.
‘ANYONE WITH A VOICE HAS A RESPONSIBILITY’
I think anyone who has a voice has a responsibility and there are some people using their voices irresponsibly
American-British vlogger ‘Max of Arabia’, a long-time resident of the UAE, believes the new law has created a sense of accountability in the social media world.
“I think anyone who has a voice has a responsibility and there are some people using their voices irresponsibly. More than anything, the new law has made people think twice before saying something about somebody else,” said the influencer with 621,000 followers on Instagram.
From what I have seen, there seems to have been good adoption of the new regulations with companies and individuals who make good money from their online activities — there are now registered companies and registered influencers who have the necessary permits.
Business blogger and digital strategist Farrukh Naeem referred to the rise of influencer marketing, where they are paid by brands for endorsing or posting about their products or services.
“As many social media users started to monetise their online influence, it became harder to differentiate organic content from paid content,” he said.
Naeem said regulation of paid content and media is a good step in any country, describing it as “a norm rather than the exception.”
“From what I have seen so far, there seems to have been good adoption of the new regulations with companies and individuals who make good money from their online activities — there are now registered companies and registered influencers who have the necessary permits,” he said.
Looking at the next few years, Naeem said he believes that the laws and regulation are a great starting point with more refinements and amendments to come.