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Consumer goods giant Unilever, the world’s second-biggest advertiser, is cutting ties with digital media "influencers" that buy followers, saying that it wants to help make advertising more transparent. With big brands advertising more on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, a cottage industry of "influencers" has sprung up, in which celebrities and other popular people earn money by posting about products. But their audience numbers, which often dictate their fees, can be enhanced by purchasing followers. The practice of buying followers risks eroding trust and therefore damaging one of the fastest-growing areas of advertising, the $1bn-a-year market now known as "influencer marketing" and Unilever said it wants it to stop. Its chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, was due to pledge on Monday that the maker of Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise would never buy followers or work with influencers who buy followers. It would prioritise social media platforms that stamp out ...

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