• Maya Malekian

Fyre Fest: Redefining Social Media Influencers

Updated: May 6, 2019

The 2017 luxury music festival failure involving more than 4,000 attendees who received a tremendous amount less than what they paid for. They were promised luxury living with A-list celebrities on a private island in the Bahamas. What they got were soaked mattresses in used tents, performer no-shows, prepackaged meals and extreme lack of basic safety accommodations.

The event was the first of what was to become many social media influencer promotions by major celebrities, such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski who were paid to promote the event. As a result, Kendall Jenner had to pay $250,000 after failing to disclose her promotion was an ad, which the Federal Trade Commission requires to be disclosed to the public. Emily Ratajkowski was the only celebrity to disclose her promotion using the hashtag #ad. The Federal Trade Commission ruled that #ad was only sufficient if placed at the beginning of sponsored posts and could not be the only form of a disclaimer.

Since then, the FTC has cracked down on these social media influencers requiring more than just a simple hashtag, which many Instagram users have become accustomed to gloss over. Last year, the department sent a warning letter to over 90 social media “influencers” about how to properly promote their posts. They must provide a clear “material connection” between the endorser and advertiser— whether that be a business or family relationship, free products/gifts, or payments. You may notice Instagram has recently introduced the “paid sponsorship by _____” feature at the top of posts.

The Fyre Fest, amongst other recent blurred line incidences has put pressure on social media influences to be more transparent when it comes to paid sponsorship content. However, even with the government monitoring these celebrities, social media still continues to confuse audiences with its unclear intentions as a business and a media platform.

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