They say nothing comes for free, and a handful of celebrities are about to find out how not free things can be. That's because the Federal Trade Commission is coming down hard on what they call "social media influencers" who might be violating federal trade laws for not identifying sponsored posts, or posts that don't properly identify the freebies celebs frequently get to enjoy.
The celebs in question aren't directly identified in the FTC's announcement, but the Fashion Law has detailed a number of repeat offenders making what they call "undisclosed posts." Names include members of the Kardashian and Jenner clan (including Lord Scott Disick, of course), David and Victoria Beckham, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Irina Shayk, Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell, Chrissy Teigen, Heidi Klum, Pharrell, Steph Curry, Drake, and Jennifer Lopez.
The report comes on the heels of a formal complaint issued by Public Citizen, a democratic advocacy group. The FTC has sent letters to more than 90 celebs to remind them that identifying sponsored posts is law under Section 5 of the FTC Act. If they don't comply, offending celebs will be fined up to $40,000. That may not sound like much in celebrity dollars, but still… it adds up.
But so do the freebies and paid spots celebs post about on social media. Most recently, Coachella has been full of them. Take, for example, Vanessa Hudgens being hosted by Marriott during the first weekend of the music fest. Her first post is properly labeled #brandpartner, while the second is not:
Or Aaron Paul getting a free lift to Coachella with Lyft and gaining entrance to the fest thanks to H&M. H&M was tagged as a brand partner, but his ride with Lyft was not. He did thank them profusely, though!
Ashlee Simpson and hubby Evan Ross spent some time hanging with Ciroc and Lucky Brand Jeans during the desert fest, and trumpeted it on Instagram:
Juxtapose this with the clearly marked #ads posted by Kendall Jenner, Halsey, and Hailey Baldwin, promoting Bumble, Three Olives Vodka, and H&M respectively:
Granted, celebs do get a lot of freebies, because duh, they're celebs. But in the FTC's eyes, getting freebies and getting paid to make a social media post in honor of a brand aren't necessarily so different. Their ultimate goal is to make social media advertising more transparent, pushing influencers to disclose working relationships with brands - and to be incredibly clear about it.
So if the FTC has its way, and cited celebs play ball, we might just start seeing more #ads in our Insta feed in the near future. Lucky us!
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