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Have you ever seen a TV commercial with a celebrity or star athlete talking about how great a product is? You probably realized that they were paid for their endorsement, and it still may have influenced you to buy the product.

What if you saw that same celebrity post on social media about a particular sports drink, with the hashtag #recoverfaster? Would you think it was a paid promotion? It can be hard to tell.

Marketers have found new ways to promote products using social media and “influencers.”  Those are celebrities, star athletes, and other people with strong online followings, and their posts endorsing products may be advertising.

If influencers are given free products or being paid for endorsements, they should disclose that clearly. We recently sent out over 90 letters to influencers and marketers to educate them on their responsibilities and on how to disclose their relationship effectively. If you see a post labeled “Ad,” “Promotion,” or “Sponsored,” or with a hashtag like “#Ad,” the person posting it is giving you important information about their connection to a marketer.

It can be hard to tell from a post if an influencer has not disclosed that they were paid, or got free products. When using social media, posts that appear to be independent endorsements or reviews may actually be paid promotions, so it can be helpful to look at reviews from a variety of sources.

For more information, watch this video about online reviews and recommendations.


Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


everyone lies for money. This is just another way to lie. Do not trust advertisers, they have one thing in mind and it is not you but their share holders


I know a social influencer right away. If they have a lot of hashtags thier influencers. I don't like being influenced. I make up my own mind. Don't like ads either. I opt out.

Can you please get on this? The 90 letters you sent out today are just a teeny-tiny start. Perhaps you have some social media savvy college interns? You might also take a look at "Food Babe" as her facebook page, instagram, and website promote many brands with which she has financial partnerships, none of which are disclosed to her readers.

If you think an influencer is getting free products or being paid for endorsements, but isn't disclosing that clearly, please let the FTC know at

Think? It looks more than obvious to me. Getting free products or being paid for endorsements? Let me guess. I contact your agency again about the talk-radio program "Coast To Coast AM" and its host, George Noory, and that "criticalhealthnews(dot)com" and that shay mess -- then get laughed at for trying to protect consumers?

I know the drill. The FTC talks a big talk -- but when it comes down to it, it lets such very suspicious supposed "news programs" air that play with people's lives by telling them NOT to go to medical doctors but to buy their expensive, unproved and non-FDA approved snake oil to "help them, instead. Aired to roughly 600 affiliates without full disclosure or disclaimers made -- and so many suckers apparently take the bait.

Let your agency know? Some of us try -- then get laughed at -- literally -- when contacting your offices. You don't care and please stop "acting" like you are earning your taxpayer-funded salaries for not doing your darn jobs. Like I have to do that for you? Huh? Fair enough?

What option do I pick to file a complaint under?

Money makes the world go round! That is why they lie. Companies need their shareholders and themselves happy, the way is money.

I wish people would realize that just because a celebrity advertises for a product or promotes it does not mean that the product is any better than anything else out on the market. Celebrities are also known as ordinary human beings. People need to learn to make up their own minds.

Just because someone, anyone, says something is good or bad it is still the responsibility of the one paying to do their homework. This also goes for charities, you are responsible for that money. If it is used for evil things it is still your fault. Wake up people......

I feel so stupid for falling for it and at the same time feeling so violated!! How do they say they they are Christian and lie through there teeth to get more money!!

I have never understood why people are so influenced by celebrity advertisements. The sole reason a celebrity is associated with a product is for the $$$, nothing else.

Celebrity endorsement says nothing about the product quality nor worth. I do not consider a celebrity endorsement neutral. I prefer an unbiased opinion or real world reviews by actual product reviewers.

How do we report profiles that a flagrantly abusing this?

If you see a post and you think an influencer has not disclosed that they were paid, or got free products you can report it to the FTC at The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

Ban companies and their brads to use sly methods and questionable "instagram influencers" to advertise on Instagram by way of spamming us. These so called :influencers" are just in it for the money. They spam innocent unaware Instagram individuals and children by following than unfollowing them, in order to increase their popularity by follower numbers. Step up FTC and do the right thing. Prohibit Instagram "influencer' advertising! Are children are harassed, spammed and abused every day on Instagram by InstaGRAM, COMPANIES THEIR BRADS AND THE QUESTIONABLE CHARACTERS SO CALLED "INSTAGRAM INFLUENCERS"

Protect us and our children! we are constantly bombarded with follows from Instagram influencers, only to unfollow us later if we don't follow them back!...Over and over again, and again by the same influencers or not! And new ones pop up everyday, spamming us with crypted hashtags, brand names disguised on the photo post and not visibly at first. Your 90 letters of warning should extend to just banning this unethical and barbaric practice against all of us by greedy companies and their partner in profit, Instagram!

Don't make me laugh. You know, I tried through the past few years to make your supposed "consumer protection" agency aware of something that should have been addressed between some "fake news" talk-radio program from a paid sponsor sans what I strongly suspect lacks full disclosure with Premiere Networks' "Coast To Coast AM" and "criticalhealthnews(dot)com."

All I thought was to protect consumers from such deceptive "editorial, news or program matter" when some quacks are allowed to speak unchallenged and "play with" consumers' health and maybe their lives. While providing "money, compensation or anything of value" to aired supposed "news" program.

All I got was "laughed at" by your pathetic agency. For trying to do your damn job! Then you dare -- dare -- release such as the above in mere words when I know you have comfortable government jobs and don't give a darn about doing anything that requires courage or fairness.

You are nothing but people with government pensions and benefits down the road and do little in your jobs to address real issues. Try admitting that sometime. I see. It's OK for some radio program to fool, cheat and possibly harm people with bogus, sponsored programs which poses as "news, editorial or program matter" and calls and input are carefully screened to not allow consumers to know the truth. Only praise and "good experiences" are allowed on some "news" program, while we never, ever hear who might have been cheated and perhaps harmed.

Then I see your above post. Get real. "Coast To Coast AM" never lists any sponsor disclaimer in its social media with its paid sponsor and your agency does nothing about it. The host makes one obscure comment on air about "our sponsor and partner" (whatever that means in who is getting paid for what) and that is OK? Baloney.

As usual. People like you make a living by trying to speak big and strong -- then never following up when real action is needed. I know you all too well. Take your taxpayer money, your easy jobs, pen some useless press releases and try to fool people into thinking you are doing your jobs. Your agency is weak and a huge waste of the "consumer-protection" funds it collects. Man up, will you? Get a spine like some of us do in trying to really do the right thing and protect people from crooks.

But how do I report this??? There's a big-name celebrity who hasn't been warned in the letters that the FTC sent out and who has other people doing the influencing but using him to get the attention. He doesn't even have an instagram himself, but nobody would know who the influencers are without his name. It is OBVIOUS undisclosed influencing. But I can't figure out HOW to report it!

You can report this to the FTC at

The above article states things clearly. But it seems useless to have such "policies" when too often consumer complaints aren't investigated, or no action is taken. Even when it appears "sponsored posts" are posing as "news, editorial or program matter."

Just review the Twitter feed of Premiere Networks' "Coast To Coast AM" talk-radio program. Numerous posts from known sponsors -- carrying no such designations that these "endorsements" are no doubt the result of sponsorship.

It's all fine-and-well to write press releases and advise consumers. But it's another thing to ignore possible cases such as you note above. That's your job, not the consumers. Any diplomatic correspondence to that radio program staff to request disclosure or clarification on what is "editorial and what is advertising" only results in insults ("hater, whack job, troll") and even threats (Quote:"You are being watched", whatever that creepy statement means)from them.

So, such don't have to answer for what they present? No, it appears, they just defame true people and make false accusations against those trying to do the right thing. And the former gets away with it.

Still not looking into "Coast To Coast AM"'s relationship with "criticalhealthnews(dot)com"? With "news guests" representing a paid sponsor, even though the programs aren't disclosed as "paid programming"? Ignoring the program fails to air the FDA disclaimer:

BEGIN QUOTE: <<"21 CFR 101.93(c)

You must use the following text for the disclaimer, as appropriate:
singular: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease;" or
plural: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."

You may not modify the wording of these disclaimers.">>END QUOTE

Still ignoring that the program implies that site offers "medical advice" -- which the host calls they are "helping people," without informing listeners it is nothing but an online store that's a Youngevity International Independent Distributor? That is one questionable relationship that needs to be looked into, for darn sure.

Further, playing around with people's health and maybe their lives is much worse than possibly fooling people into buying things that are implied "preventions, treatments or cures." I feel strongly, based on the information that program airs and publishes about that site and its "news guests" representing it, consumers may being fooled, cheated --or far, far worse, harmed by what poses as "proven medical science."

I become convinced, moreover, your agency just doesn't care about these issues, in spite of all the strong words issued. Fair enough? I've basically given up trying to do the right thing -- and learned some can't turn to your agency to carry out what you claim you do.

In all respect, please get with it.

You can report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

OK. Like I haven't done that before? I was told your agency doesn't act on one complaint. It's about time it did -- in the name of protecting consumers.

Not that the whole "alternative-health" programs for "criticalhealthnews(dot)com" on "Coast To Coast AM" aren't paid spots posing as "news, editorial or program matter?" Even those of us with a layman's grasp of "sponsorship" can't see through what they are doing?

Like the host isn't getting any compensation or perhaps things of value for airing those infomercials that lack disclaimers? Get me a break. God knows how many are being cheated and perhaps harmed by that program -- but have been convinced by the program's host and the "news guests" that government agencies like the FCC, the FDA and the FTC are "corrupt" and only they hold "the truth."

It's a con job and snake-oil scam on the worst level. OK. I'll follow up again. But I bet it goes nowhere -- while these crooks continue on -- invincible, apparently. And above the law, it seems.

Is there a way to report offenders?

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