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Instagram wants influencers to clearly label their paid posts

But Instagram won't punish offenders who don’t just yet.

Instagram influencer Desi Perkins pushing some sunglasses.
@Desiperkins / Instagram

A lot of Instagram’s most popular users are paid to promote advertisers’ products. A lot of those same users don’t actually disclose that they’re promoting an advertiser’s products.

So Instagram is asking these users, many of them celebrities or media organizations, to include a “paid partnership” label on posts that they’re being compensated to share.

Instagram’s explanation for the new feature, according to a company blog post: “As more and more partnerships form on Instagram, it's important to ensure the community is able to easily recognize when someone they follow is paid to post content.”


What Instagram did not mention in its blog post is that the Federal Trade Commission sent out more than 90 letters to influential Instagram users in April “reminding” them to “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands.”

A recent study from marketing firm Mediakix found that 93 percent of sponsored posts aren’t clearly disclosed, which means they aren’t labeled clearly enough for users to understand that they’re looking at an ad.

This new Instagram tag would solve that issue. What happens if an influencer chooses to ignore the tag? Not much, at least as far as their Instagram account is concerned. But Instagram says it plans to beef up its official policy sometime soon, which we assume will include some kind of punishment for those who fail to disclose their brand relationships.

“In the coming months, we’ll also be launching an official policy and enforcement for creators to follow based off Facebook’s current practices,” Instagram’s blog post reads.

Failure to use the tag and failure to disclose the ad in some other way, like with a hashtag or disclosure in the post’s text, could still generate problems with the FTC. The FTC could take action against influencers or brands if they repeatedly violate the commission’s guidelines, and that could include fines of tens of thousands of dollars per day.

This article originally appeared on

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