On Tuesday, the FTC released a set of guidelines for online influencers dictating when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers. The guidelines, available here, break down disclosure requirements and provide tips for influencers on how to avoid deceptive advertising. In general, the guidelines largely reflect what the industry has gleaned from FTC … Continue Reading
Earlier this year, the New York Attorney General reached a “precedent-setting” settlement with Devumi LLC, a third-party website, over its sale of fake followers, “likes,” and views to customers on all major social media platforms. Devumi utilized computer-operated “bot” accounts and “sock-puppet accounts” (where an online user pretends to be one or many other people) … Continue Reading
Recently, the German media regulators, the State Media Authorities (Landesmedienanstalten), issued a joint guidance paper on marking adverts on social media. For more information, click here. … Continue Reading
We are all familiar with celebrities and social media stars using their social media accounts to promote brands and products. For some, it is their main source of income and they can make millions in endorsement and sponsorship deals. Major TV and sports icons can command hundreds of thousands of pounds per post, which may … Continue Reading
Please join us for a complimentary webinar hosted by the Association of National Advertisers on the current issues related to influencer marketing, for industry experts. Jason Gordon, partner in the Entertainment & Media Group at Reed Smith, and Jennifer MacDougall, VP, associate general counsel and assistant corporate secretary & ethics officer at Jack in the … Continue Reading
On August 15, Danielle A. Singer and her company Project Therapy, LLC (dba Therapy Threads) filed a class-action complaint against Facebook, Inc. over its claims concerning ad audiences. According to the Complaint, Facebook overstates its audience metrics in order to induce advertisers to spend money on ads on the platform. The plaintiffs allege, in part, … Continue Reading
Social media influencers are constantly competing for likes, partnerships, and ways to differentiate themselves from others. A surefire way to distinguish oneself in the ever-growing sea of social influencers? Being a robot. Computer generated social media influencers like Lil’ Miquela and Shudu have racked up millions of Instagram followers and likes and have secured several … Continue Reading
A 2015 lawsuit brought by Facebook users over the company’s alleged unauthorized collection of their facial features and other facial biometric data pursuant to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) is slowly moving through the courts. The BIPA requires written notice and consent for the collection of biometric identifiers or biometric information of Illinois … Continue Reading
Starting September 19, 2016, Twitter users will be able to say more in their Tweets. As it stands, Twitter limits Tweets to 140 characters – and every character, including images, videos and URLs – count towards this limit. Beginning next week, Twitter will eliminate the types of content which count against its 140 character limit. … Continue Reading
A class action lawsuit was filed in California yesterday against Hey, Inc. and Twitter regarding Hey’s online trading game in which players collect profiles of (and use virtual currency to invest in) real-life people as if they were baseball cards. App users may purchase virtual currency to buy and trade these profiles. According to the … Continue Reading
Last week, Pinterest updated its Acceptable Use Policy, which governs its policies for conducting a contest and sweepstakes. Pinterest policy previously: Prohibited brands from running a sweepstakes where each Pin, board, like, or follow represents an entry; Prohibited brands from requiring entrants to Pin from a selection; or Prohibited brands from requiring a minimum number … Continue Reading
Pokémon Go, released July 6, has unleashed a swarm of hopeful Pokémon trainers into the world, seeking to, as Pokémon famously says, “catch ‘em all.” And while Pokémon Go users are traversing cities, towns and hamlets to catch Pokémon, advertisers want to catch a little of that Pokémon magic. Brands and local businesses are recognizing … Continue Reading
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) and the BBB are pleased to announce the launch of its second Public Service Campaign regarding children’s online safety. CARU’s first campaign titled, “Do you know where your children are…on the Internet?” was broadcasted on the major network and cable channels, received thousands of views on social media and … Continue Reading
We’ve seen native advertising take many forms, from paid celebrity Tweets to advertisements masked as editorial content to paid influencers promoting brands on social media. With a growing number of companies engaging in native advertising, in particular those involving social media influencers, the relationship between independent bloggers and corporate brands has become a sticky issue … Continue Reading
With the first quarter of 2015 behind us, many companies are already deeply engaged in social media campaigns. Many of these campaigns include the engagement of professional bloggers or other persons with social media influence to promote corporate brands through social media. These individuals are typically classified as independent contractors, but are they really employees? … Continue Reading
Sensitive to the expanding diversity of the online community, the world’s largest social network has taken a step to curb highly contentious postings. On March 16, Facebook revamped its community guidelines, detailing what is and is not acceptable behavior on the site. With social media playing an ever-increasing role in the news and current events, … Continue Reading
In a recent article published in Bloomberg BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law Report, Stacy Marcus discusses celebrity endorsements, FTC disclosures and other issues that social media marketers need to consider when advertising during major events such as the Super Bowl.… Continue Reading
A recent district court case reminds companies and brand owners to establish clear guidelines or contractual rights with respect to brand-related social media pages' administration and ownership.
Plaintiff Stacey Mattocks independently ran an un-official Facebook fan page which focused on the TV show the "Game". After Black Entertainment Television network (BET) acquired rights to the TV show, it hired Mattocks to promote and grow the brand on the page and provided exclusive content and IP to Mattocks. During Mattocks' employment, the number of page "likes" grew from 2 million to 6 million. Mattocks had granted BET full access to the page to update content but later, during a dispute involving Mattocks' terms of employment, Mattocks demoted BET's ability to access the page without her approval and claimed ownership of the page. BET approached the social media platform to regain control and Mattocks filed suit for various claims against BET (such as breach of contract and tortious interference with contract).
While social media platforms offer certain protections to companies and some include official or verification procedures, this kind of litigation and expense could have been avoided with more careful planning with respect to allocation of rights and ownership up front.… Continue Reading
A recent Facebook Platform Policy change may affect the way many promotions are run on Facebook. The change, effective November 5, 2014, prohibits Facebook Page owners from requiring a user to "like" their Page in order to access content, such as entry into a contest or sweepstakes, via a Facebook application ("App"). Advertisers often use this technique, known as "like-gating," as a way to increase the amount of likes their Pages receive.
Facebook believes that a prohibition on like-gating will benefit both advertisers and consumers. In announcing the change, Facebook stated in a blog post: "[T]o ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives."
A like can be valuable to an advertiser, regardless of whether it is generated organically or artificially. When a user likes a Facebook Page, the like may appear on the user's Timeline, stories from the Page may show up on the user's news feeds, and users may also appear in advertisements for that Page.… Continue Reading
Last month, Snapchat reached a settlement with the Maryland Attorney General over alleged deceptive trade practices regarding Snapchat's marketing claims that user "snaps" disappear forever. In addition, the Attorney General alleged that Snapchat had violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This settlement follows a similar settlement between Snapchat and the Federal Trade Commission, which we reported on previously.
After announcing the settlement, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said that "despite Snapchat's marketing claims to the contrary, no company can fully prevent content you send to someone else from being copied, shared or posted online[.]" Attorney General Gansler went on to state that companies operating online or through mobile devices have a responsibility to safeguard user privacy and to be transparent about the information they collect. According to Attorney General Gansler, Snapchat misrepresented to consumers that pictures and video messages sent using the Snapchat mobile application are only viewable temporarily, when in fact they can be captured by the recipient for future viewing or circulation. As a result of these representations, some Snapchat mobile application users may have sent pictures or video messages they would not have sent were these risks adequately disclosed. The Attorney General further alleged that Snapchat secretly collected information from users' contact lists without their consent, and that Snapchat failed to comply with COPPA by knowingly collecting the personal information of children under the age of 13 without verifiable parental consent.… Continue Reading
While social media has matured over the past decade as a marketing platform, it is still very much a legal work in progress. Join Reed Smith partner and ANA General Counsel, Douglas J. Wood, on Tuesday, July 29 at 1:00 p.m. EDT for a complimentary webinar entitled Social Media's Murky Legal Waters to hear what legal risks lie ahead for marketers operating in the social media space, and how they can work to build powerful creative while keeping those risks within reason.… Continue Reading
The FDA issued two draft guidance documents on social media last week. The first guidance pertains to product claims and risk information on platforms such as Twitter and Google's sponsored links, while the second guidance covers correcting misinformation that originates from independent third parties on the Internet and social media sites. The FDA has opened up a comment period and will be accepting comments until September 16, 2014.… Continue Reading