Travel Influencers

  • Travelers United is committed to truth in advertising in travel.
  • Travelers United has so far brought two travel influencer cases about deceptive advertising. We plan to bring more.
  • Travel influencers must disclose when they are making an advertisement by posting “Ad” “Advertisement” or “Sponsored” at the beginning of their caption and if there is a video, they should note this in the video a well. The FTC has clear guidance on this issue.
  • Travelers United brought a case against influencer Cassie De Pecol and her LLC, Expedition 196. De Pecol falsely claimed to be both the first woman to travel to every country and the first sponsored astronaut of Virgin Galactic. She also usually did not properly disclose when her social media posts were advertisements. De Pecol received a cease and desist from Guinness World Records and from Virgin Galactic. The case remains ongoing.
  • For further information and case documents related to the case of Travelers United v. Expedition 196, LLC, et. al. please visit this site.
  • Travelers United’s case against De Pecol is a case of first impression as we believe this is the first case in the country to address the false claims an influencer makes about herself (not just about a product). Here Travelers United argued that the influencer is herself the brand. She is the merchant. The judge ruled the case can move forward to trial.
  • In Travelers United v. Kristi Noem, Travelers United sued South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem for failing to properly disclose a medical tourism advertisement that she posted on all of her personal social media platforms.
  • Travelers United also sued the cosmetic dental company that produced Noem’s advertisement in Travelers United v Smile Texas. Brands are responsible for making sure that their influencers are complying with FTC guidance.
  • Travelers United maintains that the FTC is unfortunately understaffed and thus not doing enough to take on deceptive social media influencers. Travelers United advocates for stronger FTC funding and for greater enforcement of truth in advertising.
  • Federal and state law exists regarding truth in advertising but it is rarely, if ever, enforced against influencers. Travelers United hopes to change that.
  • If the FTC does not take action, Travelers United will bring cases ourselves.
  • We also encourage state Attorneys General to take action against deceptive social media influencers and we continue to work with Attorneys General across the country on the issue.
  • We will continue to file deceptive advertising cases against travel social media influencers.
  • Notice to travel influencers
    • You must post “Ad”, “Advertisement” or “Sponsored” as the first word in a caption if you are posting an advertisement on social media. The in app disclosure is not sufficient disclosure. Make sure it is also written in the caption.
    • If you receive an item for free but you are not specifically paid to promote that item, you still need to note the item was gifted or that you received the item for free if you post about the item.
    • If you received the item at a discount, you still need to note that you received the item at a discount if you post about the item.
    • If your social media accounts are visible in the United States, you are subject to the consumer protection law of the United States.
    • If your social media accounts are visible in the District of Columbia, you are subject to the consumer protection laws of the District.
    • If you are a British Instagram influencer who lives in Bali, Indonesia and you think that the law of the United States does not apply to you, you are wrong.
  • If you have a question about Travelers United’s legal work, please reach out to Travelers United Counsel Lauren Wolfe at [email protected]
  • Note – Nothing here is legal advice.