The Government Is Cracking Down On Instagram Influencers

Posting sponsored content on your social media? Then you owe it to your followers to label it as such. (Though, perhaps not as much as Scott Disick.)
Late last year, Kim Kardashian came under fire for posting paid content to her Instagram without disclosing the posts were in fact ads. By now, many of us can spot the product-pushing agenda of a celebrity-endorsed tea or diet pill, but that’s not enough. For the first time ever, the Federal Trade Commission has reached out to celebrities and influencers on Instagram in an effort to educate them on best practices for advertising products on social media.
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As noted by WWD, 90 letters have been sent out to both influencers and marketers, to remind them about their obligation to transparency. Influencers must disclose their “material connection” with the brands of products promoted across their social media. That transparency also includes being clear about “a business or family relationship, a payment, or the gift of a free product.”
“Influencers, are your #materialconnection #disclosures #clearandconspicuous?” reads the FTC’s official blog. “What we saw raised concerns about whether some influencers are aware of truth-in-advertising standards about endorsements and disclosures,” the announcement read.
“The legal responsibility for disclosing the relationship between an influencer and a brand is a two-way street,” the letter continued. The FTC then went on to share some basic advice:
— Keep your disclosures unambiguous.
— Make your disclosures hard to miss.
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— Avoid #HardtoRead #BuriedDisclosures #inStringofHashtags #SkippedByReaders.
The later part was surely a dig at those influencers who enjoy burying their obscured ad callout beneath a paragraph’s length of accompanying hashtags.
Will the powers that be comply? Who knows. Considering the fact that social media has become the wild, wild west of unregulated advertising, it will surely take more than a “reminder” to crack down on shady behavior. Even Kardashian continues to struggle with how to peddle products, as witnessed in her recent #SponConGate.
Then again, now that influencers and brands know that they’re under the watchful eye of the FTC, surely they’ll feel less inclined to run amok?

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