FTC issues warnings to Instagram users for failing to disclose sponsorships

As more and more brands turn to social media channels to promote their products, the Federal Trade Commission is increasingly keeping a watchful eye on media personalities using platforms like Instagram to generate sponsored content. In the latest crack down, the FTC issued warnings to Instagram influencers such as Jennifer Lopez and Emily ​Ratajkowski for failing to adequately disclose their sponsorships with various brands.

Emily Ratajkowski in DKNY Intimates. - DKNY
Though no companies or media personalities were fined, the FTC sent out letters outlining that influencers would need to make their relationships to specific brands more clear and defined when posting sponsored content.
Letters sent out by the FTC also show just how many ways advertisers can use social media to promote their products. The letters suggested sponsored content be accompanied by “#ad” at the beginning of the post to make the nature of the content clear.
The FTC sent out more than 90 letters to both brands and celebrities or influencers. Some of the recipients include Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, who has posted sponsored content for Flat Tummy Tea, Emily Ratajkowski who has advocated for Rodial, and Behati Prinsloo who has promoted Josie Maran Cosmetics.
The specific Instagram posts flagged by the FTC show how vague sponsored posts can be. Actress Sofia Vergara, who has more than 12 million Instagram followers, was warned for a post depicting her wearing Dana Rebecca jewelry that did not disclose her relationship with the brand. The specific post received over 75,000 likes.
The amount of money Instagram personalities and influencers can receive for sponsored content recently drew attention due to the controversy surrounding the failed Fyre Festival. Organizers allegedly paid models such as Kendall Jenner $250,000 for a single post promoting the festival.

Per FTC regulations, any connections an individual has to a company must be disclosed in sponsored content. As the use of social media as a marketing tool grows, the FTC is paying more attention to how celebrities and personalities disclose endorsements. 

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