Do celebrities you follow on #Instagram promote certain products on their posts? Do they tell you that they have been sponsored to promote such products? If not, then they might be in trouble, as the Federal Trade Commission recently sent letters to celebrities and influencers warning them to disclose if their posts are paid for by advertisers.

The letters have been sent to more than 90 celebrities and marketing firms, although it was not mentioned to whom particularly the letters were addressed. The FTC targeted posts that mentioned a brand or directly promoted products.

Deceiving Instagram followers

This has been the first time that FTC intervened on this issue, partly thanks to an advocacy group called #Public Citizen, which conducted its own investigation last year.

Advertisements
Advertisements

They have discovered that celebrities such as Rihanna and Kim Kardashian have endorsed products on their Instagram accounts without proper disclosure.

Public Citizen explained that Instagram has become a “Wild West” of disguised advertising that targets young people.

Points made by the FTC

Here are the issues that the FTC has targeted in regards to the Instagram posts.

  • Some disclosures such as “#sp,” “Thanks [Brand]” were not clear for their followers that the post was paid for by advertisers.
  • The said hashtags may not be seen by Instagram users as they only see the first three lines of text on a post. The hashtags must be typed on the first few lines of the post.
  • Instagram users may only skip over the hashtags if there are too many of them.

The FTC did not mention any specific wording for a proper disclosure.

Advertisements

However, phrases such as “Sponsored” and “paid for” might be clear enough for the readers that the post they are reading is paid for.

In addition, the FTC has reportedly taken action against Warner Bros. last year for violating their rules in proper disclosure. The studio allegedly did not disclose that it paid high profile YouTubers to give one of its video games positive reviews.

Other influencers on Instagram

Aside from celebrities, there are a number of people who have risen to a celebrity-like status with millions of followers on Instagram. They are Chiara Ferragni with 8.9 million followers; Aimee Song with 4.5 million followers; Julie Sarinana with 4.5 million followers and Brian Difeo with three million followers, just to name a few.

It is speculated that these celebrity-like Instagram users are receiving several thousand dollars to endorse products on their Instagram posts.