Social Media Law: TINA Files another Round of Instagram Influencer Complaints with the FTC

March 18, 2019

Social media influencer law Non-profit watchdog Truth in Advertising (TINA) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against 20 social media influencers for allegedly posting “unfair and deceptive” ads on Instagram. The news should serve as a reminder to all influencers, kidfluencers, and social media marketers about the importance of following FTC promotional guidelines.

TINA Complains to FTC About 20 Social Media Influencers

The FTC has long signaled its intention to punish influencers and brands that shirk online marketing regulations. About two years ago, it sent reminder letters to nearly 100 promotional professionals about disclosure requirements. It followed up with 21 of those earmarked influencers in September 2017. Since then, all has been quiet on the social media front. So TINA started its own data collection initiative.

The group found that 20 of the investigated influencers still weren’t complying with FTC requirements. So the organization collected and turned over evidence: 1,400 supposedly deceptive posts, promoting more than 500 brands, published between May 2017 and December 2018. Vanessa Hudgen, Scott Disick, Ciara, Shay Mitchell, Rach Parcell, and Lucy Hale all landed on TINA’s naughty list. Executive Director Bonnie Patten explained:

“It’s clear that these social media influencers do not take the FTC’s regulatory guidance seriously and continue to deceptively market goods and services to their fans. It is time that the FTC takes strict enforcement action against these repeat offenders.”

Three Legal Things Every Social Media Influencer Should Know

Dot Com Disclosures

The Dot Com Disclosures is the FTC’s dos-and-don’ts pamphlet for online marketers. It details how, when, and where influencers and brands must disclose paid and otherwise compensated advertisements online.

If you’ve never heard of the Dot Com Disclosures, head here to dive in. Consulting with a social media lawyer is also a good idea, as he or she can review your work and pinpoint legal vulnerabilities. The relatively inexpensive investment in a compliance audit could save you hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in regulatory fines.

And no! Burying #ad disclosures in picture captions isn’t a viable workaround.


Contracts are a big part of influencers’ business dealings. Agreements must be signed with brands, platforms, and support staff. Naturally, everyone is guarding their best interests. You should too. Have an attorney review any and all documents before signing on the dotted line.


How are you reporting marketing and influencer earnings? Do they run through a formal corporate structure or are you filing as a freelancer? Are you confident you’re making the most of all available deductions, credits, and investment options that could save you money? What about compliant offshore options or crypto? Have you explored any?

Our team can walk you through all of these questions and craft the ideal tax positioning plan for you and your social media business.

Connect With A Social Media Lawyer

The Gordon Law Group works with individual influencers, brands, and marketing companies on social media legal issues. We’re a top-rated firm in step with today’s marketplace. Get in touch today to begin the conversation.

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