FTC Social Media Actions

Since 2011, there have been at least 10 FTC investigations involving social media influencer marketing. In five of these cases, the FTC entered into consent orders with the companies, with one case targeting the company’s marketing agency. Each case resolution required compliance and monitoring from the companies but none required any payment of money to consumers. In the other five cases, the FTC elected not to bring charges against the companies after its investigations. (In its latest action, in April 2017, the FTC sent more than 90 educational letters to social media influencers and marketers concerning their legal disclosure obligations.) To date, no FTC action has been taken directly against an influencer.

Target/Year  Platform Issue Outcome

 Hyundai Motor America

(Nov. 2011)

Blog Gift certificates were given to bloggers to encourage them to link to and comment on Hyundai videos and upcoming Super Bowl ads. Some bloggers did not disclose that they had received the certificates. No action

 Nordstrom Rack

(Feb. 2013)

Twitter For its “TweetUp” campaign, Nordstrom Rack gave gifts to influencers for attending a store opening. Some influencers who posted about the opening did not disclose that they had received gifts. No action

Cole Haan

(Mar. 2014)

Pinterest For its #Wandering Sole campaign on Pinterest, Cole Haan incentivized consumers to post pictures of its products by entering them in a $1,000 shopping spree contest without requiring proper disclosure of the contest. No action

 ADT

(June 2014)

Blog ADT endorsers represented themselves as independent reviewers while promoting ADT on talks shows, websites, and blog posts without disclosing that they were compensated by the company. Consent order

Deutsch LA

(Mar. 2015)

Twitter Marketing agency for Sony, Deutsch LA, urged its employees to promote Sony’s PlayStation Vita on Twitter without instructing them to disclose their relationship with their client. Consent order

 Microsoft

(May 2015)

Twitter Microsoft’s Nokia provided a free trip to Boston, a Lumia phone, and other incentives to influencers who tweeted about the phone’s photographic capabilities. A majority of influencers did not adequately disclosure their material connection to the company. No action

 Machinima

(Mar. 2016)

YouTube Machinima paid influencers to post YouTube videos endorsing Microsoft’s Xbox One system and several games. The influencers failed to adequately disclose that they were being paid for their seemingly objective opinions. Consent order

 Lord & Taylor

(May 2016)

Instagram Lord & Taylor retained 50 fashion influencers to post Instagram pictures of themselves wearing a dress from a new collection, but failed to require the influencers to disclose that they received the dress for free, as well as payment in some instances. Consent order
 Warner Brothers

(Nov. 2016)

YouTube & Twitter Warner Brothers’ influencer marketing campaign for the video game, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, failed to adequately disclose that it paid the influencers thousands of dollars to post positive gameplay videos on YouTube and other social media platforms. Consent order

 Various companies and influencers

(Apr. 2017)

Instagram After reviewing numerous Instagram posts by celebrities, athletes, and other influencers, FTC sent more than 90 letters reminding influencers and marketers that influencers must clearly and conspicuously disclose their material connection to brands on social media. Educational Letters
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