FTC addresses social-media post disclosure

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Clear disclosure of sponsorship is #necessary.

That was the message from Federal Trade Commission, which sent letters to at least 90 marketers and so-called influencers to remind them that they must make consumers aware of any relationship that they have to brands that they endorse or promote through social media.

Consumers Digest told you about celebrity social-media endorsements that ran afoul of Food and Drug Administration reviewers as well as FTC. FTC sent the letters after consumer advocacy group Public Citizen filed petitions that alerted FTC to a lack of clear disclosure in endorsements and FTC reviewed the Instagram posts that were in question. FTC says it’s the first time that it has addressed this issue with “influencers,” who include celebrities and athletes.

The letters were meant to “educate” the influencers and marketers about what constitutes a “material connection” that must be disclosed in social-media posts and how any disclosure should be published, FTC says. Specifically, FTC says such disclosure should appear before a viewer would have to click on “more” in a post. It also should be noted more clearly than through the use of an obscure hashtag, such as #sp or #partner, or being included in a long string of hashtags.

No legal action was taken or threatened by FTC.