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

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has been cracking down on brands for paying Instagram users to endorse their products or to share brand content without disclosing the relationship.  Indeed, the recent settlements entered between the FTC and several media and entertainment companies as well as a specialty retailer make it clear that the FTC is paying close attention to endorsements of all kinds – whether by celebrities, sponsors, or paid “influencers.”
Continue Reading Using Hashtag #Disclosures in Social Media Advertising

The New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau recently released “Five Best Practices for Transparent Cause Marketing” which contains general best practices for cause marketing campaigns, including campaigns conducted on social media.  Cause marketing, also known as commercial coventures, is the practice by a for-profit company of donating a portion of the purchase price of an item or service to a charity.  Cause marketing is becoming increasingly popular among companies looking to do good as well as to generate positive publicity for their brand.  Many states regulate cause marketing, however, New York’s Best Practices indicate that greater attention may begin to be focused on campaigns conducted using social media and other newer online platforms for giving.
Continue Reading New York AG Addresses Cause Marketing on Social Media

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed several updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).

COPPA currently provides that operators of websites and other online services that collect personal information online about children under 13, or whose websites or services are directed at children under 13, must:


Continue Reading FTC Proposes Updates to Children’s Online Privacy Law

Pinterest has seen its number of daily visitors increase by 145 percent since the beginning of 2012, now counting 11 million users on its site, according to recent reports. It is a powerful social media tool by any standard, however, in recent months, with its meteoric rise, concerns have also surfaced about potential copyright issues. Needless to say, companies are clamoring to gain access to this vast and ever increasing pool of users, but they should (and can) proceed with caution in order to stay on the right side of the copyright issues.
Continue Reading Companies Using Pinterest, Be Careful Not to Get Pricked

It is now cliché to say that social media activity by companies is growing exponentially. Companies, hospitals, non-profits, the armed services, insurance companies…. every type of entity can be found on social networking sites with Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts. The marketing opportunities for companies continue to manifest themselves with directed marketing campaigns, discounts on Foursquare and other location based networking sites, and data mining to analyze social networking activities.
Continue Reading Why Social Media Activity May Mean Updating Your Insurance Coverage

Words matter. Words can come back and bite you. Think before you speak. These are all self-evident truths that no one is likely to dispute. Yet, we continue to see examples of people, who should know better, doing just the opposite. This is especially true in the context of electronic communications – first, in work emails, and now, on social media websites. If it was a simple matter of personal embarrassment alone, then there would be no need for this article. This is not the case however.
Continue Reading Why Every Business Should Have A Social Media Policy