FTC vows to crack down on sponsored internet posts

It wants more than just a hashtag disclosing a paid social update.

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Thaddaeus McAdams/Getty Images
Thaddaeus McAdams/Getty Images

The FTC's settlement with Warner Bros. over poor disclosure in sponsored internet posts was just the beginning. The Commission tells Bloomberg that the government is planning a crackdown on paid posts that will require both stars and advertisers to be much more explicit when telling viewers that it's a paid piece. A disclosure through a social hashtag or a below-the-fold YouTube description won't be enough -- the FTC wants celebrities to reveal their endorsements up front, and to mention them in videos. There's "no effective disclosure" if people don't see it, the agency says.

It's not clear whether or not advertisers and the internet famous will respond quickly to FTC pressure. While many of them are willing to include disclosures, some either don't like the buzzkill effect of in-video notices or are convinced that buried disclosures are okay so long as you genuinely like the product. And how do you squeeze a notice into a short Snapchat or Vine video? Online celebs will have to be frank about paid posts some point, but they'll both have to figure out the logistics and adjust their mindsets.

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