Snapchat star DJ Khaled raves about Ciroc vodka. Fashion lifestyle blogger Cara Loren Van Brocklin posts a selfie with PCA Skin sunscreen. Internet personality iJustine posts Instagrams from an Intel event. Missing from their messages: any indication about whether they’ve been paid.
This uptick in celebrities peddling brand messages on their personal accounts, light on explicit disclosure, has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. government. The Federal Trade Commission is planning to get tougher: Users need to be clear when they're getting paid to promote something, and hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored --common forms of identification-- are not always enough. The agency will be putting the onus on the advertisers to make sure they comply, according to Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division. It's a move that could make the posts seem less authentic, reducing their impact.