Instagram Influencers Get Warning from Federal Trade Commission about Sponsored Content

Posted by on Friday April 28, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government’s consumer protection agency, says it sent warning letters to 90 Instagram users and marketers, reminding them that sponsored Instagram posts must be clearly identified as sponsored or paid content. The FTC did not release the identities of the Instagram users it warned, but said they included “celebrities, athletes and other influencers.” There was no indication if any of the influencers were also professional photographers. The agency also said that the action was motivated by complaints from the non-profit consumer rights organization Consumer Citizen, and the research of FTC regulators.

One of the issues, FTC said in a press release, is that many users are putting sponsorship disclosures at the end of a long caption, effectively hiding that information from viewers. “Consumers viewing Instagram posts on mobile devices typically see only the first three lines of a longer post unless they click ‘more,’ which many may not do,” said the agency’s statement, which was issued on April 19. “The staff’s letters informed recipients that when making endorsements on Instagram, they should disclose any material connection above the ‘more’ button.” The FTC also said that users are slipping their sponsored post indication into a string of hashtags, making it hard to identify.

The step suggests that some marketers and Instagram influencers, who get paid to post on behalf of brands, have not followed the Endorsement Guides the FTC issued in 2015. In those guides, the FTC said that sponsored social media posts needed to be clearly identified as such, but did not have to use specific language. According to the guides, “What matters is effective communication, not legalese. A disclosure like ‘Company X sent me [name of product] to try, and I think it’s great’ gives your readers the information they need.”

The statement also reiterated that FTC isn’t just concerned with whether fees were paid to an influencer. What matters, it says, is if there’s a “material connection” between the influencer and whatever she or he is endorsing. “A material connection could be a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the gift of a free product,” the FTC wrote.

Related:
What New Federal Trade Commission Guides Mean for Instagram Influencers
What Should Photographers Charge for Social Media Usage? (For PDN subscribers; login required.)


COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Copyright Watch: In Apparent Retaliation, CBS Sues Photographer Who Sued Them for Copyright Violation

Posted by on Thursday November 2, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

  CBS Broadcasting Inc. has filed a lawsuit against photographer Jon Tannen for allegedly posting images from a television show on social media. The complaint appears to be an attempt to retaliate against Tannen for trying to protect his copyright. In February, Tannen, a New York City-based photojournalist, sued CBS Interactive Inc. for willful copyright... More

Photog Terry Richardson Banned by Conde Nast, According to Leaked Email

Posted by on Tuesday October 24, 2017 | Copyright/Legal, Media

Conde Nast magazines have blacklisted photographer Terry Richardson because of numerous allegations he sexually assaulted and harassed models and stylists, according to a report in The Telegraph. The newspaper reports that an email circulated to Conde Nast magazines says the publishing company “would like to no longer work with the photographer.” In addition, any shoots... More

Unsplash CEO Tries to Justify Copyright Grab

Posted by on Friday August 11, 2017 | Business, Copyright/Legal

The co-founder and CEO of Unsplash, the photo-sharing platform that asks contributing photographers to grant free licenses to their images, attempted to justify the company’s terms of use in a blog post written last week. The post follows outrage by professional photographers, who blasted the company on social media. Unsplash’s terms are terrible for photographers,... More