Baker Paul Hollywood could lose valuable promotional work after finding himself at the centre of a social media scandal over allegations of paid for fake Twitter and Instagram followers.
The 52-year-old, who lives in Adisham and used to operate a bakery in Aylesham, is one of a number of tv personalities and athletes who were named in the “cash-for-followers” furore.
But now the companies who hire celebrities to market their goods and services are reported to be wising up and ditching anyone suspected of buying fake followers.
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An investigation by the New York Times revealed that celebrities use inflated social media accounts to earn lucrative marketing contracts with global firms.
Hollywood, who recently made headlines for dating a woman 30 years his junior, was named alongside Olympic rower James Cracknell and Lastminute.com founder Baroness Lane-Fox in the investigation.
Some 40% of prominent figures described as “social media influencers” are said to use exaggerated follower figures.
While social media companies are supposed to be able to spot inflated accounts, some marketing firms claim they can avoid detection.
But corporations including Unilver are now severing ties with celebrities with paid-for followers.
Keith Weed, the company’s chief marketing officer, will tell a marketing conference in Cannes today that a strict policy not to use such “social influencers” will come into force in a move to restore trust with consumers.
Hollywood appears to have two Twitter accounts. One is called @paulhollywood and has exactly 669,400 followers, but the description states that he now tweets from an account called @malejudge, which has 17,398 followers.
Under new rules announced earlier this year, celebrities who do not make it clear they are paid to promote products and services could face heavy fines imposed by advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Agency.