FTC Shots Fired

FTC Shots Fired

90 Influencers Get Called Out in FTC Disclosure Crackdown

Last week the FTC issued official warnings to 90 social media influencers and their brand partners for violating FTC laws regarding sponsored post disclosures. This recent crackdown was sparked by petitions filed by digital consumer advocacy groups Public Citizen, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Center for Digital Democracy. 

This is the first time that the FTC has addressed influencers directly— in the past, warnings have been directed at the brands. This could signal that the FTC plans to regulate the influencer marketing industry more closely moving forward. To make that job easier, they clarified their pre-existing guidelines so that disclosures now must follow a more specific and conspicuous format.

In the past, creators could get away with using vague phrasing like #sp, #spon, or “thanks @brand for X product,” but that will no longer meet disclosure requirements. In letters to the 90 individual influencers, the FTC outlined the new, more clearly defined, terms:

  • Consumers should be able to easily notice the disclosure without having to search for it.
  • Disclosures should be included in the first 3 lines of an Instagram post caption, before the “more” button.
  • Disclosures should not be hidden amongst a large cluster of hashtags, especially where they appear at the end of a long post. 

More details can be found in this guide on the FTC website. A few notable guidelines include:

  • If you get free product and monetary payment, you need to indicate this clearly. It’s not enough to say that the brand gave you free product to try. You don’t have to disclose how much they paid you, but you need to be clear that you were paid.
  • If your company is a network or agency that recruits and manages influencers for brand collaborations, you are responsible for your influencers’ failures to disclose properly. 

It’s unclear what the consequences will be for these 90 influencers if they continue to violate the FTC guidelines, but they’re now on the FTC’s radar. Anyone could be next, so be sure to disclose conspicuously, friends. 


If you're an influencer, check out this Guide to Disclosures.

If you're a marketer, this eBook provides a comprehensive look at the FTC guidelines.

Photo credit: Unsplash.

Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence

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