Australia has a problem with its digital advertising.
In an increasingly digital society, many Australians are still struggling to use the internet to find and shop for products.
And now the state of Victoria has gone the extra mile to try and make things worse.
Victoria’s state advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into Instagram and Facebook following a number of complaints that the social media platform was failing to disclose its business model.
The Victoria State Advertising Standards Agency has launched a formal complaint into Instagram following complaints from its Australian advertising clients, which include Victoria’s biggest mobile carrier Vodafone and the state’s largest telco Telstra.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world and boasts over 100 million monthly active users in Australia.
Instagram has since apologised for misleading its Australian clientele.
The Victoria Advertising Standards Authority (VASA) is investigating Instagram after a number of complaints about the platform were made.
“In order to operate effectively, Instagram needs to provide information on how it operates and how it generates revenue from its advertising revenue, including how much of the revenue is generated by the advertisements posted by its Australian and international customers,” Victoria’s Department of Telecommunications said in a statement.
“We are working closely with Instagram to investigate these complaints and ensure we have the best possible solution.”
The Victorian regulator’s investigation is expected to take two to three months to complete.
Facebook, meanwhile, is facing a number more complaints.
Facebook has said it would cooperate with the Victoria regulator’s inquiry.
It also said it was investigating reports of users being denied the ability to comment on posts and deleted posts because of their gender.
In the wake of the Instagram scandal, Facebook has launched its own investigation into the platform and plans to make changes in the coming months.
“It is important to note that our ad platform is built to work with a wide range of advertising partners, and there are many ways advertisers can create ads that align with the audience that Facebook serves,” Facebook’s chief communications officer, Alex Stamos, said in an email to The Reg.
He said Facebook had implemented a number “improvements” over the past year to ensure its ad network worked as it should.
Facebook also said that it would continue to work closely with the Victorian regulator to ensure it complied with all relevant laws and regulations.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We take the privacy of our users very seriously and are committed to protecting their information.
We have worked with Victoria’s State Advertising Ethics Commissioner (SADA) and other regulators in the past to improve transparency around how we use and disclose customer data, and we are reviewing our processes.”
Instagram and Facebook have also said they have been cooperating with the investigation.
The Victoria regulator said it had not yet made any recommendations for Facebook, Instagram or other digital advertising platforms.