According to a statement released today by Rohit Chopra of the Federal Trade Commission, undisclosed influencer marketing posts on social media should result in financial sanctions. The FTC voted 5-0 to approve a federal registry notice calling for public comment on issues related to whether the advertising endorsement guides need to be updated.
"If companies wash advertising by paying an influencer to pretend that their approval or review is not affected by a financial relationship, it is an illegal Payola," Chopra writes. "The FTC have to decide whether new requirements for social media platforms and advertisers should be created and whether civil liability should be activated. "
Currently, the non-binding endorsement guides dictate that "if there is a connection between an endorser and a seller of an advertised product that could affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement, the connection must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed." In the case of social media , That is, authors must note that their contribution is part of an "advertisement", "sponsored" content, or "paid partnership".
However, Chopra would like the FTC to consider making these rules official by "encoding elements of existing endorsements into formal rules to ensure violations of Section 5 (m) (1) (A) civil sanctions and Section 5 (5) damage 19. "He cites the poor enforcement to date and notes that Lord & Taylor did not insist in the department store case that 50 paid influencers state that their positions were sponsored." , no communication to consumers, no deletion of incorrectly received personal data and no findings or assumption of liability. "
Oddly enough, Chopra is fixed on Instagram Branded content ads that allow marketers to pay to convert tagged influencer posts into ads. However, these ads contain a clear “Sponsored. Paid partnership with (brand) ”and appear to meet all required disclosure requirements. He also mentioned concerns about sponcon on YouTube and TikTok.
Additional goals of the FTC review will be to use fake or stimulated reviews. Public comments are asked as to whether free or discounted products affect reviews and require disclosure, how affiliate links are to be handled, and whether advertisers should issue warnings or review incentive review websites. It also wants to know how influencer marketing influences and is understood by children.
Chopra cautiously suggests that the FTC focus on those platforms and advertisers who make a lot of money from potentially undisclosed influencer marketing, rather than the smaller influencers themselves who may not be as familiar with the law and just try to give it a try. "If individual influencers are able to post about their interests in order to earn additional money on the side, there is no need to worry," he writes fairly. "
While many of the social media platforms have moved to self-police rules on disclosure of paid partnerships, there are still gray areas for incentives such as free clothing or discounts. Codifying incentives for approval, formally calling for social media platforms to implement policies and functions for disclosure, and establishing influencer marketing contracts that require participation to be disclosed would be sensible updates.
Society has enough problems with misinformation on the Internet, from trolls to election killers. At the very least, you should be able to trust that someone who says they love their new jacket will not be secretly paid for it.