This is the signal that retailers are giving to so-called “Fools” influencers who peddle apparent counterfeits and counterfeit designer products on social networks.
In a report released Wednesday, the American Apparel & Footwear Association noted growing concerns among its member brands over influencer harvests on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and others that intentionally promote counterfeits as affordable alternatives to expensive luxury brands.
The AFOA argues that this account of the dupe appeal obscures its costs. Its report refers to a statistic previously cited in a January 2020 report from the Department of Homeland Security, which indicates that by 2022, counterfeit products are expected to displace between $ 1,000 billion and $ 1,200 billion in global sales from legitimate companies. . The group also argues that counterfeit production may involve the use of dangerous and low-quality materials, as well as the use of forced labor.
In a call to action, the AAFA calls on online platforms to step up their oversight of counterfeit marketing on their sites by monitoring the use of hashtags promoting these products and suspending or removing the accounts of violators.
“This is a very important contribution to our collective understanding of the cutting edge of the current situation of counterfeiters,” said Stephen Lamar, President and CEO of AFOA.
“One of the things to realize about this, and as I read the report, I continued to see this theme: these fooled influencers are trying to surround themselves with the traps of legitimacy and authenticity to sell illegitimate and counterfeit products, ”he said. .
Social media platforms have shown signs of responding to calls for such crackdowns.
The AAFA report follows the recent lawsuit in which Gucci and Facebook teamed up to target the promotion of counterfeits on social media. Their joint action, filed in a California federal court last month, is also aimed at flexing Facebook’s own enforcement power against posts on its sites, including Instagram, which it views as property infringement cases. intellectual.
This lawsuit in itself appears to be part of an emerging trend in online marketplaces to partner with disputed brands as a way to root out counterfeits. Previously, Amazon and Salvatore Ferragamo SpA had filed a similar complaint in federal court in Washington.
“I think we are starting to see more and more platforms partnering with brands to bring joint lawsuits… so this is a positive development,” said Christina Mitropoulos, Director of Brand Protection and Initiatives at manufacturing at AAFA.
“But I think when we look at this problem as a whole, it’s obviously unrealistic to tackle every duped influencer or counterfeiter operating on a social media platform,” she said. “For this reason, as part of this report, we encourage more proactive measures to be taken by these social media platforms, so that they can eradicate this type of activity.”
In its report, the AFOA calls on social media platforms to take a more “proactive” approach to enforcing their own terms of service targeting advertising that raises concerns about intellectual property infringement.
The report also warns influencers that promoting fakes could tarnish their prospects for future collaborations with legitimate brands and potentially result in the revocation of any verified status they may have on social media platforms, a currency for content creators. of social media looking to create their own personal brands. .
“Influencers are an extremely important asset for the fashion segment,” said Mitropoulos. “A lot of our brands are using influencers as part of their legitimate digital strategy, so I think that’s a really important point to stress.
“This report is really designed to educate the fashion industry and obviously the influencers who promote these fakes, to recognize the consequences of this kind of activity,” she said.
“It is also designed to educate brands in this ecosystem, consumers and also online platforms,” she added. “At some level, they realize that this activity takes place on their platforms, but hopefully this can better educate them as well to put in place more proactive features and programs on their platforms to eliminate this type of behavior. ”