FTC sends warnings to Cardi B, other influencers for not disclosing paid ads

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this week took action against a skincare and tea company, and sent warning notices to almost a dozen Instagram influencers including singer Cardi B for not making clear when they posted paid ads for the group. 

In a formal complaint filed Thursday, the FTC alleged that Teami and its owners Adi Halevy and Yogev Malul claimed without scientific proof that their products could help with weight loss, fight cancer, treat colds and lead to other positive health benefits. 

The FTC also took action against the company due to its failure to disclose that it was paying certain influencers to post ads on social media.

The FTC sent warnings to 10 of these influencers — including Cardi B, actress Adrienne Bailon and singer Jordin Sparks — alleging that their paid posts for Teami were “deceptive.”

“Social media is full of people peddling so-called detox teas, promising weight loss,” Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Companies need to back up health claims with credible science and ensure influencers prominently disclose that they’re getting paid to promote a product.”

While the agency did not bring formal charges against Cardi B and other influencers, the FTC requested they provide the agency with a list by March 30 of actions they intend to take to ensure paid ads are obvious to social media followers. The agency threatened “legal enforcement action” in the future if their behavior did not change.

“When you endorse a product on social media, you should make obvious your financial or other relationship with the brand by clearly and conspicuously disclosing any material connection in the same post that you make the endorsement,” Richard Quaresima, the acting associate director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, wrote to the influencers.

The proposed settlement with Teami would prohibit the company and its owners from making unsupported weight loss and health claims about their products, and would fine the owners $15.2 million. The FTC noted that this amount would likely be reduced to $1 million due to the inability of the defendants to pay the fine. 

Teami did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the charges brought by the FTC.

The company has been widely advertised across social media platforms by influencers over the past few years. Others who have posted paid ads include Kim Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner, along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).

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