Paid to Post? #FTCAdvice for Influencers

In our previous blog post, “#CAUTION: FTC Ramps Up Enforcement of and Education on Social Media Influencer Disclosure Requirements,” we discussed a recent Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) settlement and the FTC’s increased focus on misleading advertising and endorsements on social media platforms.

The complaint, brought by the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (“BCP”), was against two online gaming influencers, Trevor Martin (a/k/a TmarTn), Thomas Cassell (a/k/a TheSyndicateProject, Tom Syndicate, and Syndicate), and their corporation CSGOLotto, Inc. (“CSGOLotto”).  The BCP alleged that Martin and Cassell (1) did not disclose their ownership in CSGOLotto, (2) were paid to endorse the online platform’s gambling service and (3) asked other gaming influencers to promote the service in exchange for payments between $2,500 and $55,000 without making them disclose such payments. In response to the complaint, neither Martin, Cassell, nor CSGOLotto admitted or denied the allegations, but instead agreed to enter into an Agreement Containing Consent Order with the FTC (the “Order”). The Order prevents them from misrepresenting an endorser of the product or service as an independent user or ordinary consumer of same and requires them to clearly and conspicuously state if the endorsers have a material connection to the product or service. Continue Reading

#CAUTION: FTC Ramps Up Enforcement of and Education on Social Media Influencer Disclosure Requirements

In 2017, being a “social media influencer” can mean big bucks. Companies are increasingly eager to pay individuals with large social media followings substantial sums to promote products in the hopes of reaching millions of potential customers quickly. And consequently, the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) is paying attention more than ever. If you’re being paid to promote a product on your Instagram account, the FTC wants you to let the world know. . . or else. Continue Reading

Privacy Hat Trick: Three New State Laws to Juggle

Nevada, Oregon and New Jersey recently passed laws focusing on the collection of consumer information, serving as a reminder for advertisers, retailers, publishers and data collectors to keep up-to-date, accurate and compliant privacy and information collection policies. Continue Reading

A Deeper Dive Into the FTC Crack-Down on Social Media Influencers: What You Should Know Before You Post

In our previous blog post, “Brands Beware!!! FTC Scrutinizing Influencer Posts for Compliance with Endorsement Guides,” we reported that the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) had issued more than 90 letters to brands and influencers, making it clear that it is paying close attention to influencer-based marketing.  More recently, the letters have been made publicly available, providing valuable insight into the types of disclosures that the FTC considers unacceptable or inadequate. Continue Reading

Political Polarization in a Programmatic World

In an era of heightened political awareness and division, brands are more and more sensitive to the nature of the content where their online ads are displayed. In an era of ever-increasing dominance of programmatic advertising via multiple levels of ad networks, real-time bidding, and behavioral targeting, brands have less and less control over where their ads appear.   Continue Reading

Dish Network to Dish Out $341M for TCPA Violations

Two recent judgements against Dish Network LLC (“Dish”) for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and similar state and federal laws demonstrate the significant liability companies may face based on the actions of their third-party contractors. Dish has been ordered to pay a total of approximately $341 million in two separate federal court actions related to TCPA violations committed by its marketing service providers. Both cases underscore the importance of maintaining strong vendor oversight in the highly regulated telemarketing industry. Continue Reading

WannaCry Ransomware Alert

This is not a drill.

Companies and law enforcement agencies around the world have been left scrambling after the world’s most prolific ransomware attack hit over 500,000 computers in 150 countries over a span of only 4 days. The ransomware – called WannaCry, WCry, WannaCrypt, or WannaDecryptor – infects vulnerable computers and encrypts all of the data. The owner or user of the computer is then faced with an ominous screen, displaying a countdown timer and demand that a ransom of $300 be paid in bitcoin before the owner can regain access to the encrypted data. The price demanded increases over time until the end of the countdown, when the files are permanently destroyed. To date, the total amount of ransom paid by companies is reported to be less than $60,000, indicating that companies are opting to let their files be destroyed and to rely instead on backups rather than pay the attackers. Nevertheless, the total disruption costs to businesses is expected to range from the hundreds of millions to the billions of dollars. Continue Reading

The Kardashians Can’t Keep up with Copyright Law

Khloe Kardashian is the latest Kardashian to find herself in court over her activities on social media. The youngest Kardashian sister was sued by a photographer for copyright infringement in Xposure Photos UK Ltd v Khloe Kardashian et al, 2:17-CV-3088 (C.D. Cal). Xposure alleges that Ms. Kardashian posted a photo it owned on her Instagram without permission and without the copyright attribution notice included on the original. For brands, celebrities, influencers, and others who use social media, particularly to make money or for promotion, this serves as a good reminder that all rights in any photographs, videos, and other content they post on social media must be cleared. Continue Reading

Brands Beware!!!! FTC Scrutinizing Influencer Posts for Compliance with Endorsement Guides

In response to a petition from a coalition of consumer groups last year complaining about the need for disclosures by social media influencers, the FTC recently announced on April 19, 2017 that it had issued more than ninety letters reminding influencers and brands that “if there is a ‘material connection’ between an endorser and the marketer of a product – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless the connection is already clear from the context of the communication containing the endorsement.” The FTC explained that material connections could “consist of a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the provision of free products from the endorser.” A copy of the form of the letter, which explains that clear and conspicuous disclosures are required can be found here. Continue Reading

Consumer Review Fairness Act’s Point of “No Return”

On December 14, 2016 the United States Congress passed an act known as the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016” (“CRFA”)[1]. The stated goal of this new legislation is “to prohibit the use of certain clauses in form contracts that restrict the ability of consumers to communicate regarding the goods or services offered in interstate commerce that were the subject of the contract.” The reach of the legislation’s protection of honest consumer reviews and opinions extends beyond content that may be posted on a company’s own website, as the Federal Trade Commission has clarified that the CRFA “protects people’s ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct, in any forum, including social media.”[2] Subject to certain exceptions under the CRFA relating to content that a company may be able to remove, edit, or suppress, CRFA generally provides that a provision contained in a form contract is void at inception if the provision: (i) “prohibits or restricts the ability of an individual who is a party to the form contract to engage in a covered communication;” (ii) “imposes a penalty or fee against an individual who is a party to the form contract for engaging in a covered communication; or;” or (iii) “transfers or requires an individual who is a party to the form contract to transfer to any person any intellectual property rights in review or feedback content, with the exception of a non-exclusive license to use the content, that the individual may have in any otherwise lawful covered communication about such person or the goods or services provided by such person.” Sections of the CRFA prohibiting and invalidating covered contract clauses became effective as of March 14, 2017, while sections providing for Federal Trade Commission and State enforcement become effective as of December 14, 2017. Continue Reading

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