Instagram opens sponsor-tagging tool to more creators, adds monitoring system


As the Federal Trade Commission begins to crack down on creators for improper branded-content disclosures, Instagram wants to keep its creators on the right side of regulators.

In June, Instagram began testing a tool for creators to label when an organic post or Story has been paid for by a brand, similar to the one its parent company, Facebook, debuted in April 2016. Now the photo-and-video app is making the branded-content tool available to more creators, in particular those that receive high levels of engagement on their posts and account for a lot of the branded content on Instagram.

To make sure that creators use the tool when required, Instagram has begun monitoring their posts for branded-content disclosure violations. The system combines computer-based and human reviews of creators’ posts, according to an Instagram spokesperson. When a post is flagged as violating the company’s branded-content policy, the creator will receive an in-app notification to attach the “Paid Partnership with” tag to the post.

If Instagram’s built-in branded-content disclosures gain wider adoption among creators, the pseudo-standard may stand on firmer ground with the FTC. In September, at the same time as the regulatory body announced its first-ever settlement with social media influencers over a failure to properly disclose a brand endorsement deal, the FTC also threw shade on the sufficiency of platforms’ built-in disclosure tools.

The FTC’s stance that these tools are “not necessarily” sufficient isn’t likely to mean that it plans to penalize the creators that use them. But the more that creators use them and the more that audiences become accustomed to their meaning, the more likely the FTC may soften its view of their sufficiency.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles.

He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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