Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

FTC warns Instagram 'influencers' about not disclosing brand relationships

FTC warns Instagram 'influencers' about not disclosing brand relationships

None of the individuals were mentioned by name by the bureau which was jolted into action by a series of petitions filed by non-profit advocacy body Public Citizen which has been busily logging alleged transgressions from celebrities including Bella Hadid, Rihanna, and Michael Phelps.

The letter sent to celebrities highlights specific cases where they may have published social media posts praising a brand without making clear they had received free products or services or were being paid for their endorsement.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it has sent out 90 letters to celebrities, athletes, and other social media stars warning them that they need to clearly show when an Instagram post was sponsored by a brand.

Sponsored posts on Instagram are big business for many.

"In addition, where there are multiple tags, hashtags, or links, readers may just skip over them, especially where they appear at the end of a long post".

Kylie Jenner, the second youngest of the Kardashian/Jenner family clashed with TruthinAdvertising.org, a nonprofit that fights deceptive advertising last summer.

But it's not just Kardashians: also previous year the FTC called out Warner Bros. for a social-media influencer campaign that didn't clearly disclose the fact that the influencers were being paid to promote its "Lord of the Rings" video game, "Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor".

She changed a caption on an Instagram picture of a lavish mansion in Turks and Caicos from "Thanks for the birthday home, @airbnb" to 'Thanks for the gift of a lovely birthday home, @airbnb'.

"If there is a "material connection" between an endorser and an advertiser - in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement - that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed", the FTC said.

'We're not prescriptive about that, ' said Mary K. Engle, the F.T.C.'s associate director for advertising practices.

An Instagram user with between 3 and 7million followers can expect to earn $75,000 per Instagram post, Esquire reported.

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