Scandal prompts FTC to crack down on social media influencers

 

FTC Smells Scam With Social Media Influencers

Social networking influencers for the first time Thursday, setting a new precedent: influencers need to unambiguously disclose their connections to brands and companies they are promoting.

Thursday’s settlement specifically requires two YouTubers — Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell — to clearly disclose relationships with brands that they promote in the future. Along with that settlement, the FTC disclosed Thursday that it’s sent these warning letters to 21 unnamed Instagram influencers saying that connections between themselves and the products they are endorsing “should be clearly and prominently disclosed” per the FTC’s Endorsement Guides.

SEE ALSO: Amazon encourages ‘influencers’ to shill even in our post-Fyre Fest world

The FTC updated their Endorsement Guides on Thursday to signify their More defined stance against social networking influencers not revealing their connections to brands that they promote and provided a clear list of dos and don’ts for influencers:

Clearly disclose when you have a financial or family relationship with a new

Don’t assume all your brand connections are known about by followers

Ensure your sponsorship disclosure is hard to overlook

Do not assume disclosures built into social media platforms are adequate

Heal sponsored tags, including tags in pictures

Don’t use ambiguous disclosures such as “Thanks,” #collab, #sp, #spon, or #ambassador

On image-only platforms such as Snapchat, superimpose disclosures over the pictures

Don’t rely on disclosures that people will see only if the click “more”

The FTC added that the 21 warning letters sent to Instagram influencers were follow-ups on 90 educational letters sent in April, detailing exactly what people will need to do to prevent charges in the FTC.

Most sites like Instagram already include rules for users posting endorsements, but they aren’t as well-defined as the FTC’s guidelines.

The FTC’s guidelines stand for anybody who would be considered an influencer on social media

The scandal with YouTubers Martin and Cassel that started it all Began back in July 2016, when internet sleuths found that the two YouTubers — who regularly made videos and printed tweets promoting a gambling website related to the match Counter-Strike: Global Offensive — were the owners of the exact identical site: CSGOLotto.

Here’s how the now-defunct, third-party gaming site CSGOLotto worked: CS:GO Players who collected cosmetic weapon skins in the game could put their skins up against another gambler’s skins and a digital coin toss would decide who the winner of the entire pot was.

Although there’s no actual money exchanging hands, person CS:GO Skins themselves can be obtained through randomly dropped loot crates (opened using a secret that costs $2.50) or purchased through the Steam community marketplace. The rarest and most attractive skins can easily be sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
Winning huge pots on their own site without disclosing that it was owned by them, along with the FTC alleges that the two paid other influencers thousands of dollars to promote CSGOLotto across multiple platforms without disclosure. This pattern began in late 2015 and many tweets and videos regarding CSGOLotto from these individuals have been deleted.

After the scandal broke, CS:GO developer Valve sent out cease and desist letters to 2 dozen gambling sites associated with its games, including CSGOLotto.

The FTC’s guidelines stand for anybody who would be considered an Influencer on social media, including individuals on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and Snapchat. There’s a possibility that Influencers who violate these guidelines could be billed Those who have already been warned.

Scott J. Cooper

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