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FTC Releases Disclosures Guidance for Social Media Influencers

It explains when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers.

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Enlisting social media “influencers” has become a popular way to promote a wide range of products, including pet items.

Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious to consumers what is and isn’t an ad. The Federal Trade Commission wants to fix that.

The FTC has released a new publication for online influencers that lays out the agency’s rules of the road for when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers.

The new guide, “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” provides influencers with tips from FTC staff about what triggers the need for a disclosure and offers examples of both effective and ineffective disclosures.

The guide and accompanying videos underscore that the responsibility to make disclosures about endorsements lies with the influencer. The guide outlines the various ways that an influencer’s relationship with a brand would make disclosures necessary, and it reminds influencers that they cannot assume that followers are aware of their connections to brands.

The guide includes tips for when and how influencers should tell their followers about a relationship. For example, it suggests the words influencers might use, as well as where in their social posts a disclosure should appear.

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The new publication summarizes the FTC’s existing guidance in this area, including the FTC’s Endorsement Guides and a 2017 question-and-answer document produced by staff.

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