Now Everyday Instagram Users Face Complaints Over Breaking FTC Ad Rules

Advertising Age
Garett Sloane

People with a mere dozens or hundreds of followers can promote products on Instagram just like they’re a Kardashian. Unfortunately, sometimes these “micro-influencers” don’t disclose the incentives they received to do so.

Just like a Kardashian.

Now consumer watchdogs have put everyday social media users in their crosshairs over undisclosed promotions.
Advocacy groups led by Public Citizen on Wednesday wrote U.S. regulators to express concern over Instagram posts that hawk products but don’t wear labels such as “#ad” or “#paid.” In September, Public Citizen submitted a similar complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, focusing on stars like the Kardashians, but the most recent letter included far less famous targets.

“The part about ‘micro-influencers’ is new to us,” said Kristen Strader, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert campaign coordinator, in an e-mail. “We have recently discovered this piece and noticed that many posts from ‘micro-influencers’ do not include disclosures of any kind.”

The letter called out companies that specialize in connecting brands with regular consumers on social media to get them to post on their behalf. Companies like Influenster and BzzAgent are middle-men in the process, hooking up the two sides.

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