The Teen Mom franchise has produced a lot of entertainment. It’s also churned out some reality stars who aren’t such great people.
Chelsea Houska is one of the exceptions, though. She loves her children and just generally doesn’t come across as vapid or that much of a hot mess.
So … color us surprised that Chelsea Houska’s in trouble. Like, legal trouble.
Don’t worry — despite what Teen Mom‘s editors might show you, Chelsea Houska doesn’t neglect her daughter in favor for her baby.
In fact, the alleged violation for which she’s been singled out has nothing to do with being a mom at all.
Not directly, anyway.
Chelsea Houska was one of 21 recipients of sternly worded letters (anything from the government is stern; it’s hard to “smile” in legalese).
From the FTC.
And it all has to do with Instagram ads.
You know, when a celebrity poses with some kind of weight loss tea or talks about how much they love their new, like, makeup kit while showing the kit and saying the name of the brand?
The kind of thing that we’ve seen from a bazillion celebs. It’s what got a bunch of haters to slam Amy Roloff the other day.
This isn’t about income disclosure.
That would be a letter from the IRS and, frankly, probably a lot scarier.
But the Federal Trade Commission has had it up to here with celebrities who don’t “properly disclose” their ads.
The FTC argues that merely tagging a brand counts as an endorsement.
They’re real sticklers about their rules.
Just like how pharmaceutical commercials (here in the US, pretty much the only place on the planet where you’re allowed to advertise prescription drugs) have to list all of the many ways that their drug might somehow harm or kill you …
Just like how commercials have to list that the people speaking are paid actors (even if it’s in the fine print that nobody reads) …
… Instagram ads are supposed to be tagged plainly.
And apparently a number of stars, including Chelsea Houska and Farrah Abraham, haven’t exactly been doing that.
We’d question whether anyone old enough to use Instagram is naive enough to think that those transparent advertisements are just celebrities casually plugging products for fun.
Like, if someone talks about liking their favorite soda, maybe they just do that.
But an Instagram post about it, mentioning the brand and holding up the label for the photo?
You’d think that you’d have to be a fool to not realize that, at the very least, that star has gotten some free stuff out of the deal.
In most cases, they’re monetizing it.
On the other hand … the world is full of fools and they deserve honesty, too.
Instagram ads can be a huge source of money, from a regular Instagram model to Kylie Jenner.
Whether it’s a fitness model showing off the protein powder that they almost definitely don’t use to a reality star showing off a corset that almost definitely didn’t make her lose weight, Instagram ads are a huge business.
We can understand why the FTC feels the need to clamp down … even if “#ad” looks so tacky in people’s captions.
We wonder if maybe the FTC needs to reconsider some of its rulings, though.
Sure, it’s a big business — some public personalities pull down six figures a year on Instagram ads alone.
(Others are said to pull down six figures per post … mostly just Kylie Jenner)
But … are there similar rules in place for product placement on television shows and in films?
When someone on television drinks a specific name-brand soda or even walks in front of a sign for a fast food place, that’s not a coincidence. Usually, the company paid for that to happen.
“Ad” doesn’t show up anywhere on the screen.
Some might argue that featuring something in your social media posts is akin to a film’s product placement rather than being more like a commercial.
Technology changes all of the time. Sometimes it takes the law a while to catch up.