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Regulating Social Media Advertising Before It’s Too Late
(Pixabay)

Regulating Social Media Advertising Before It’s Too Late

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 17

A few days ago, 14 Saudi residents were detained after promoting and launching a cosmetic product through social media. The financial penalties imposed upon the group exceeded three million riyals. However, I believe that the financial penalties are not enough to deter them. The large sums of money that celebrities receive from social media advertising are sufficient to easily cover these fines. Therefore, penalties must be escalated in order to deter influencers from informally advertising products on social media. Yes, there are celebrities who provide wonderful, informative and useful content on social media. However, the overwhelming majority of them in Saudi Arabia post poor content that stands against our collective values. These must be restricted. The biggest threat to our society is that foreign actors will take advantage of these platforms that promote malicious and destructive agendas that may undermine our national cohesion and lead to internal division and even violence. Therefore, a few actions must be taken. First, penalties should include actual imprisonment and not merely financial fines. Second, a clear system must be implemented to govern and monitor social media advertising. The Ministry of Commerce has a great responsibility to control the advertising market. Any advertising activities taken by influencers or celebrities on social media platforms must first be cleared by the ministry. Similarly, the government must create a licensure system to ensure compliance with mandatory guidelines for social media ads. Let’s not forget: young children are often influenced by the tastes of celebrities more than their own tastes. When celebrities promote any product, no matter how poor it might be, it immediately becomes a trend. Too many consumers are following celebrity ads without realizing that they have fallen victim to misleading advertising that isn’t governed by professional ethics or state regulations. It’s time to change that. –Hussain Bin Hamad Al-Raqib (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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