Summary of Action

In June 2020, TINA.org submitted a comment to the Federal Trade Commission, which was seeking public comment on whether to make changes to its Endorsement Guides. The Guides, which were first enacted in 1980 and amended in 2009, provide guidance to advertisers to ensure that ads incorporating endorsements and testimonials abide by the FTC Act.

In its comment, TINA.org highlights four social media marketing trends that the Guides ought to address: virtual influencers, disappearing social media posts (e.g., Snapchat stories), endorsement advertising targeting children and the use of fake accounts to artificially enhance an influencer’s following. TINA.org’s comment also offers several revisions to strengthen the effectiveness of the Endorsement Guides, namely, the incorporation into the Guides of the various other FTC guidance documents, an upfront requirement that advertisers substantiate the adequacy of their disclosures, an explicit extension of the Endorsement Guides to past social media posts, and greater clarity as to the meaning of “Generally Expected Performance in the Depicted Circumstances.”

TINA.org’s comment then discusses issues relating to consumer reviews, recommending that the Guides be more explicit as to the disclosure requirements relating to incentivized reviews, that review websites ought to disclose if they include incentivized reviews in composite ratings and that the Guides prohibit the practice of review gating. Finally, TINA.org recommends that FTC enforcement actions pursuant to the Endorsement Guides include endorsers and monetary judgments in order to maximize the Guides’ deterrent effect.

Click here to read TINA.org’s full comment.

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