The Federal Trade Commission has tightened consumer protection laws on twitter in a move that seems to be aimed at brand endorsements by celebrities. According to the new protection act, there are specific rules a celebrity must follow to promote products on twitter and if he or she fails to do so, they are liable to be arrested for false advertising and other fraudulent charges.
To illustrate its point, the FTC provides an example using a fictitious celebrity Juli Starz. If she were to endorse a pill to melt fat that helped her shed 30 pounds in a duration of six weeks, she could be booked for illegal and false advertising, the reason being that Juli did not claim it was an ad and second, there is no commitment about whether this product works on everyone and the kind of side effects it can have on consumers. A second example that the FTC illustrates using Juli Starz as the celebrity is the hash tag “#spon” that again fails to meet guidelines. According to the FTC, “#spon” is not clear enough to consumers that it is a sponsored ad. Such tweets would need to be clearly marked as “ad” and include possible side effects and qualify its endorsement by including the expected results and duration for a particular product.
FTC’s intent is to change the way ads appear on social media to ensure consumer safety. If an individual, particularly celebrities violate the terms of FTC, they could be slapped with a fine or worse, a lawsuit. With the new guidelines, celebrities have to be extremely careful how they endorse products on twitter and other social media.