The Federal Trade Commission issued warnings to several celebrities, including singer Cardi B, for failing to properly disclose they were paid to promote a detox tea company that made scientifically dubious claims about the health benefits of its products.
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The FTC ordered detox tea company Teami on Friday to repay $1 million to consumers for engaging in false and deceptive marketing practices. In its complaint, the FTC noted that Teami attributed various health benefits to its tea products without scientific evidence, including claims they could treat cancer, prevent the flu and fuel weight loss.
Additionally, the FTC sent warning letters to celebrities who had promoted Teami products on their Instagram accounts without clear disclosures that they were being paid. Celebrities cited in the FTC complaint included Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, singer Jordin Sparks and social media influencer Brittany Renner.
“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,” the FTC said in its warning letter to Cardi B. “’Clear and conspicuous’ means you should use unambiguous language and the disclosure must stand out.”
The FTC noted that while the celebrities associated with Teami included disclaimers in their posts, disclaimers were not visible unless users clicked the “more” option to view the entire caption.
“Social media is full of people peddling so-called detox teas, promising weight loss,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies need to back up health claims with credible science and ensure influencers prominently disclose that they’re getting paid to promote a product.”
The FTC requires that influencers who promote or endorse a product place a disclaimer in the post, such as “#ad” or “#sponsored,” to indicate that they were paid. In 2017, the watchdog agency sent warning letters to several celebrities, including actress Vanessa Hudgens and “Jersey Shore” reality star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.