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Cash-for-tweets celebrities get green light

Paid to tweet ... celebrity chef Matt Moran.

Paid to tweet ... celebrity chef Matt Moran. Photo: James Brickwood

CELEBRITIES and personalities who are paid to tweet do not necessarily need to disclose they are getting paid to do so, the competition watchdog says.

But they do need to be careful about whether their tweet or Facebook post is truthful and whether they have actually road-tested the product or service.

That is the conclusion of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has examined though not investigated tweets by the celebrity chef Matt Moran and the singer Shannon Noll that promoted South Australia as a tourism destination.

They were outed by ABC's Mediawatch program last month, which established that each had been paid $750 to tweet about Kangaroo Island but had failed to disclose the fact to their followers.

Sarah Court, an ACCC commissioner, said that failure to disclose whether they were getting paid to tweet was not ''best practice'' but didn't break any consumer laws.

''I don't think Mr Moran went far enough and he was being clever in what he said,'' she said.

''But if [he] had said: 'I had been to Kangaroo Island with my family and had stayed here, here and here' and all of that was untrue then that would be a much more straight-forward case of misrepresentation.''

Both Moran and Noll had said that they had ''heard'' Kangaroo Island was a good place to visit.

Ms Court issued a warning to celebrities who are being paid to endorse products or services, saying: ''I think personalities should be very careful about what they endorse and how they do it.''

An ad or an endorsement, regardless of the medium, needs to be truthful, she said. ''I don't see this as a whole new kind of way to break the law. It is old conduct in a new medium.''

Justine Munsie, a partner at law firm Addisons said disclosure in tweets posed its own challenges. ‘‘The brevity of tweets make it difficult to disclose a paid endorsement, or indeed to correct or disclaim any potentially misleading statement. Unless it becomes well known and acceptable, I'd query whether the growing practice in the US to include "#ad" in their tweet would be sufficient.’’

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