TINA.org Files FTC Complaint Against Instagram Influencers

Social Media Personalities Continue to Defy Disclosure Requirements

MADISON, CONN., March 05, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ad watchdog truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against 20 social media influencers violating the law by posting deceptive ads on their Instagram accounts despite previous warnings from the agency.

Two years ago, the FTC sent out more than 90 educational letters to influencers and brands outlining the legal requirements for disclosure. The agency followed up with a second batch of letters in September 2017 to 21 of the influencers, reminding them of their legal obligations and requesting information about their material connections to certain companies. Since then, there’s been no public action by the FTC on this front so TINA.org decided to take a closer look at the Instagram accounts of the 21 influencers.

TINA.org’s investigation found that 20 of the 21 influencers continue to violate federal endorsement guidelines by not clearly and conspicuously disclosing material connections — which can range from receiving a free product to an endorsement deal — to the brands promoted in their Instagram posts. The consumer group compiled more than 1,400 deceptive social media posts published between May 2017 and December 2018 promoting more than 500 brands. Violations vary, ranging from a complete lack of disclosure to burying #ad in the middle of a caption, making it easy to miss.

The list of influencers, which have a combined following of more than 220 million, includes popular social media personalities such as Vanessa Hudgens, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale, Scott Disick, and Ciara. Fashion and lifestyle blogger, Rach Parcell, posted 265 deceptive posts during the investigative timeframe – the most of anyone on the list.

“It’s clear that these social media influencers do not take the FTC’s regulatory guidance seriously and continue to deceptively market goods and services to their fans,” said TINA.org Executive Director Bonnie Patten. “It is time that the FTC takes strict enforcement action against these repeat offenders.”

TINA.org continues to urge the FTC to take action on influencer marketing, having previously alerted the agency to deceptive social media posts by the Kardashians and more recently, dozens of Ciroc influencers.

To read more about TINA.org’s investigation of social media influencers, see: www.truthinadvertising.org/influencers-defy-ftc-rules-disclosure-despite-warnings/

About TINA.org (truthinadvertising.org)   
TINA.org is a non-profit organization that uses investigative journalism, education, and advocacy to empower consumers to protect themselves against false advertising and deceptive marketing.  


TINA.org Files FTC Complaint Against Social Media Influencers