Social Media Influencers

TINA.org investigated 21 social media influencers the FTC notified (twice) of their legal obligation to properly disclose their relationships with brands when promoting products or services on social media platforms, and found that all but one continued to mislead their fans by failing to include proper #ad disclosures in their promotional posts. As a result, TINA.org filed a complaint with the FTC.

Each influencer at issue is listed below, as well as a sampling of more than 500 brands they collectively promoted without proper disclosures.


Timeline

March 4, 2019: TINA.org sends a complaint letter to the FTC urging it to expand its investigation into the marketing tactics used by social media influencers and put an end to their ongoing and pervasive consumer deception.

May 2017 to December 2018: TINA.org collects more than 1,400 examples of 20 of the 21 influencers deceptively promoting more than 500 companies.  Each of the examples fail to meet the FTC’s clear and conspicuous standard for disclosing material connections to the promoted brands – with issues ranging from a complete lack of disclosure to using inconspicuous or unclear disclosures such as placing #ad or #sponsored “below the fold” (i.e., not visible unless a user clicks on “more” to expand the caption box) and/or relying on Instagram’s built-in disclosure tool (which is separated from both the image and the caption).

September 6, 2017: The FTC sends a follow-up warning letter to 21 of the influencers who received the April letter, citing specific social media posts the FTC staff is concerned might not be in compliance with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides.

April 19, 2017: The FTC announces that it sent out more than 90 letters reminding influencers and marketers that influencers should clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.


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An argument for embedded advertising disclosures in sponsored social media posts.