Watchdogs Press FTC To Crack Down On Influencer Marketing 06/24/2020 – MediaPost Communications

The Federal Trade Commission should step up efforts to
discourage phony online endorsements, the watchdog Consumer Reports urges in new comments to the agency.

“While consumers are aware that much of the information available online may be
biased or simply inaccurate, they still rely heavily upon online reviews and endorsements,” Consumer Reports writes. “Unfortunately, the FTC’s approach to date to address
prejudiced and fraudulent reviews has not been sufficient to meaningfully root out online misinformation, especially as new forms of advertising — like social media and influencer marketing — have
outpaced the FTC’s guidance.”

The organization’s comments come as the FTC is preparing to revamp its endorsement guides, which were last overhauled in 2009.

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Earlier this
year, the agency announced the review and solicited public comment on a wide variety of issues surrounding influencer marketing, including how well advertisers and endorsers currently disclose payment
for promotional posts on social media. Other questions posed by the FTC include whether children are able to understand disclosures, and whether the guides should address endorsers’ use of affiliate
links.

News of the review came several months after Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) urged the agency to
investigate the way influencers marketed products like “detox tea” — which often contains an over-the-counter laxative with potentially damaging side effects — to adolescents and young
adults.

“Unfortunately, many manufacturers of these products are taking advantage of young people’s insecurities and the power of celebrities on social media platforms to endorse their
products,” Blumenthal wrote to the agency.

Consumer Reports is encouraging the agency to issue sweeping guidance that
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