Organizations Join to File FTC Complaint Over Instagram Influencers

The Fashion Law

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has been asked to investigate advertisers who are compensating “influencers” to endorse products on Instagram. According to a complaint filed with the FTC on Tuesday by Public Citizen, the Center for Digital Democracy, Commercial Alert and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, such advertisers and influencers are failing to meet their obligations under federal law by not disclosing their connections. The parties’ complaint states: “A longstanding, core principal of fair advertising law in the United States is that people have a right to know when they are being advertised to.”

The complaint continues on to note: “Disguised advertisements are inherently deceptive, because consumers do not know to apply appropriate screens. The issue is acute with disguised ads featuring paid endorsements, where deceived consumers believe admired celebrities are making genuine, self-directed and enthusiastic endorsements of brands, not realizing that those celebrities are instead paid and may not even use the touted brand.”

The organizations refer to a recent study by Public Citizen, which found 113 celebrities – ranging from musicians, actors and athletes to fashion industry influencers – who have endorsed products for pay and without valid disclosures to indicate such a relationship.

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