A screenshot from a new video for social media influencers created by the Federal Trade Commission, which has just released a simplified guide for influencers on the rules of disclosure.
Washington, D.C.—The Federal Trade Commission is laying it all out for social media influencers.

On Tuesday, the agency released “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” a guide outlining when and how they should disclose their relationships to brands to their followers.

It contains the same information the FTC has shared before, but with simplified language and clear examples.

For example, the guide states that influencers should disclose whenever there is a financial, employment, personal or family relationship with a brand.

It also reminds influencers that tags, likes, pins and “similar ways of showing you like a brand or product” are endorsements.

The “How to Disclose” section of the guidelines talks not only about where to place the disclosure on social media posts, like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, but also covers how to handle disclosure in videos and live streams.

It also provides advice for simple and clear wording, such as: “Don’t use vague or confusing terms like ‘sp,’ ‘spon,’ or ‘collab,’ or standalone terms like ‘thanks’ or ‘ambassador,’ and stay away from other abbreviations and shorthand when possible.”

The eight-page guide ends with a “What Else to Know” page for influencers, covering issues like endorsing a product that hasn’t been tried (they can’t) or talking about a product they didn’t like (they can’t say it was good).

The FTC posted the guide online, along with short videos about the content, which it is sharing on its social media and YouTube channels.

Watch: The FTC’s Video About Ad Disclosure


“Disclosures 101” is one of several influencer-related publications released by the FTC in recent years, following its Endorsement Guides and a 2017 question-and-answer document, as celebrity and influencer endorsements grow more prevalent on social media, and the lines between authenticity and paid content blur.

In the past, the agency has sent letters directly to influencers to ensure they are adhering to the guidelines for disclosure on social media.

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