Meanwhile, SEBI is to issue guidelines on the use of finance influencers by brokers and mutual funds.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Technology (MeitY), has, on Twitter, clarified the front-page ad in The Economic Times today (June 26) does not endorse any individual or platform.
Starring finfluencer Rachana Ranade, the ad urged readers to recognise the difference between genuine and fake expertise online.
His clarification came after people, seeing government logos in the ad, wondered online if the authorities had begun to endorse individuals. Not only Ranade but digital creators and influencers Saransh Goila, Kamiya Jani, and Ankush Bahuguna also appeared in the print ad.
The MeitY “encourages all digital platforms to create awareness of Safe&Trust And Accountable #Internet and is supportive of all genuine campaigns/advocacy for this but that is not an endorsement. Given that these type of advocacy ads could be misinterpreted, I have advised more careful use of Govt logos in these campaigns by private platforms,” read Chandrasekhar’s tweet.
Another noteworthy aspect of this print ad is that it runs counter to SEBI, India’s market regulator, which is to come up with a discussion paper on regulating financial influencers; SEBI will regulate brokers and mutual funds to limit the use of financial influencers in advertising and marketing campaigns.
The central government uses influencers while the market regulator looks to police their use in ads.
Sharing her views, Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI, says, "Merely using an influencer in an ad is not a problem. The question is whether the influencer has the credentials to give expert advice that they claim to give. In finance and healthcare particularly, there is a direct harm that can be caused to consumers and therefore there is a need to regulate this space."
Speaking about the ET ad, Kapoor says that the advice being given in the ad is generic and the influencers are asking consumers to stay safe and not trust everything they hear and see.
"Ads on digital medium are the highest violator of the ASCI codes and this includes influencer ads as well. It is important for online platforms to educate consumers and also to fully support consumer safety by taking down such misleading ads when identified by ASCI and others," remarks the secretary general.
The print ad is part of Youtube's 'Hit Pause' program, to help viewers spot and evaluate misinformation. On June 15, 2023, the MeitY and Google collaborated on cyber safety where Google will work with the government to amplify its “Stay Safe Online” campaign.