The Kardashian family is known for over-sharing, but a consumer watchdog group alleges that Kim & Co. have crossed a line with some of their social media posts. Truth in Advertising sent a letter to the Kardashian-Jenner family last week, telling them that they had found over 100 Instagram posts that were paid product placements without being marked as advertising.
The Kardashians now have a week to take those posts down, or Truth in Advertising will notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which in turn could open an official investigation. The group found undisclosed product placement on the Instagram accounts of five Kardashian siblings, which collectively advertised more than two dozen companies without proper disclosures.
“Kylie had the most problem posts. Kim took second,” it stated in a blog post Monday. “Puma, with which Kylie has an endorsement deal, led all companies in TINA.org’s sampling with 13 posts. Paid posts promoting Fit Tea appeared on Kylie, Khloe, and Kourtney’s Instagram pages.”
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FTC regulations require journalists, celebrities and other media personalities to disclose their relationship with companies if they are reimbursed for a review or endorsement. These regulations were initially put in place to make sure TV show hosts wouldn’t advertise products without proper disclosures on air, but have since been adapted to the social media age.
The FTC even advises users on its website on how to ad proper disclosures to tweets and Instagram messages without adding long-winded legalese: “The words ‘Sponsored’ and ‘Promotion’ use only 9 characters. ‘Paid ad’ only uses 7 characters.”
This isn’t the first time the Kardashians have gotten in trouble for not properly labeling ads on Instagram. A year ago, Kim Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram that endorsed medicine against morning sickness without a warning of possible side effects. The FDA stepped in and forced her to take down the post.
Product endorsements on Instagram have become a big business for celebrities, with some estimating that celebrities like Kendall Jenner make up to $300,000 with a single endorsement.
Correction: 8/24: A previous version of this post erroneously stated that the Kardashian family may get in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission. Instead, it’s the Federal Trade Commission that may take action against indisclosed product endorsements.