The FTC Isn’t Kidding About Instagram Ads

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The FTC Isn’t Kidding About Instagram Ads

By Victoria Sheridan

The Federal Trade Commission means business when it comes to regulating Instagram advertisements.

The consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen recently complained celebrities weren’t being upfront about which of their posts were sponsored. So, the FTC responded by reviewing the photos and sending warning letters to more than 90 Instagram users. The commission has discussed its standards for advertising on social media before, but has not directly confronted the celebrities named in complaints until now.

Public Citizen wasn’t alone in its push to make sponsored content more transparent—this past summer, the nonprofit Truth in Advertising filed a complaint against the Kardashian family for “deceptive marketing.” Though the FTC won’t name which celebrities received the letters, Public Citizen also included the Kardashians in its petition, in addition to well-known Instagrammers like Rihanna, Michael Phelps, Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lopez, Lindsay Lohan, Lebron James, Drake, Mark Wahlberg, and Blake Lively.

The 113 photos Public Citizen referenced in its complaint usually show the celebrities using a product from the brand that has paid them, with an accompanying caption endorsing it. Products range from makeup and hair care from companies like L’Oreal to athletic gear from Nike and Adidas to snacks from Lay’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The release adds that Instagrammers should be clear that their post is an ad within the first three lines of the photo caption, and should avoid writing too many hashtags that could bury disclaimers. The use of hashtags and captions like “#sp” (short for “sponsored”), “Thanks [Brand],” or “partner” do not directly communicate that the post is sponsored and can confuse followers, the FTC says.

In its Endorsement Guides, the FTC writes that ads should be “honest and not misleading”—and consumers should know when they’re reading an endorsement that has been paid-for, because it can affect the way they “[evaluate] the endorser’s glowing recommendation.”

Read full article and learn more about the FTC and Deceptive Advertising here.

Here’s How To Make Sure You, Your Business & Website Is FTC Compliant

By now it should be clear how important it is for you to be FTC compliant. But how can you do that without spending $7,500-$8,000 or more on Internet Attorneys?

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Disclaimer:  This article is provided for informational purposes only. It’s not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created. Neither the author nor FTC Guardian, Inc. is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.

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