Home » , , » How Social Media Influencers Are Deceiving Buyers Of Nutritional Supplements

How Social Media Influencers Are Deceiving Buyers Of Nutritional Supplements

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Friday, January 26, 2024


The characters in "Pretty Little Liars" are not the only hoodwinkers who dupe and deceive. A significant number of social media influencers are paid good money by supplement companies to subtly and cleverly influence sales. The problem is, in many cases they are using deceptive practices, not disclosing or hiding the serious possibilities of internal injuries. Consumers need to be informed and highly cautious when allowing themselves to be influenced to use unsafe products. Below is a concise summary of these deceptive practices.  

"Recent years have seen the rise of influencers— (social media personalities paid to leverage their popularity to market products)—marketing dietary supplements. These supplements, often created and marketed to stimulate weight loss, include 'vitamins, essential minerals, protein, amino acids, and herbs.' Influencers’ foray into the realm of dietary supplements has had a significant impact on the marketing industry, as demonstrated by their enormous advertising revenue, with estimates that influencer marketing would reach '$10-20 billion in 2020, with close to 80% of brands participating.'  

"Exacerbating current regulatory limitations is the proliferation of influencer marketing (i.e., giving or receiving compensation in exchange for product endorsement via social media), which has made it easier to use false or misleading claims about dietary supplements to promote their purchase and use and to shape consumer trends. Influencer marketing has exploded over the past several years, increasing in value from $1.7 billion in 2016 to an estimated $13.8 billion in 2021. 

"The monetary value of influencer marketing derives from 3 characteristics:  

(1) consumers perceive influencers as being authentic, which drives more engagement;  

(2) social media posts can turn engagement directly into sales by providing a link to the product in the post;  

(3) the lower cost of influencer marketing compared to traditional advertising allows for more varied advertisements. 

"The practice is so effective that some brands have forgone traditional advertising completely, and, as of 2020, '74% of consumers report relying on social media content when making purchasing decisions.' 

"However, this method of marketing is difficult to regulate. Under the FTC Act, the FTC requires the disclosure of a monetary relationship between a brand and the endorser in a manner that is 'clear and conspicuous.' Yet, in an effort to create the illusion of a genuine endorsement, influencers frequently hide the disclosure—typically signified by #ad or a mention of 'paid partnership'—deep within other hashtags, putting the disclosure after multiple pages or forgoing the disclosure entirely. 

"This deception often goes unnoticed and may change how a consumer perceives the post, as the average consumer cannot differentiate content that is advertising from content that is not, opening the door to harmful deception ... Some companies using influencer marketing were found to disclose product dangers after presenting multiple images (i.e., burying warnings after the entertaining content), and others presented claims in a way that would lead consumers to believe the product was FDA approved when it was not. By failing to provide the whole picture, giving misleading information, or not including valid alternatives, influencers risk leading their followers to purchase potentially ineffective or dangerous products." 

Does Regulating Dietary Supplements as Food in a World of Social Media Influencers Promote Public Safety?                                               https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/does-regulating-dietary-supplements-food-world-social-media-influencers-promote-public-safety/2022-05 

Staggering number of cases of dietary supplements causing harm:  

"Overall, between 2004 to 2021, a total of 79,071 adverse events related to the use of dietary supplements were reported to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Vitamin E products for example, marketed for decades for their antioxidant benefits in turn have shown significant evidence of toxicity and an increased risk of bleeding outweighing its potential benefit. The FDA’s response was simply implementing a label guideline update, yet this update had evidence of minimal effect as the number of cases gradually continued to increase. 

"Likewise, herbal products such as Kava Kava, Yohimbine, Kratom, and Garcinia Cambogia, in addition to weight regulating products, such as OxyElite Pro and HydroxyCut, have been linked to organ failure, hepatic, renal, cardiac toxicity, and death respectively. The FDA merely responded through instating public consumer warnings of their effects with consumption and limited recalls of certain products. 

"With the easy accessibility of these products, the general public is more inclined to its use without proper guidance and monitoring from their healthcare team, posing as a major concern for possible interactions, contraindications and unfavorable outcomes. With proper implementation of stringent regulations, findings from increased studies on efficacy and safety, cases of adverse events could have been reduced significantly or averted completely.  

"The FDA’s minimalistic efforts consisting of only post-marketing monitoring and retrospective actions of label modifying have time and time again shown flaws as seen in the growing series of reports. By amending the over-the-counter supplement review process to reflect that of prescription medication, the magnitude of adverse events can be diminished. 

Narrative Review: The FDA’s Perfunctory Approach of Dietary Supplement Regulations Giving Rise to Copious Reports of Adverse Events  https://pubs.lib.umn.edu/index.php/innovations/article/view/4989 

Related Posts 

8 Alarming Truths That Make Supplement Marketers Squirm http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/08/8-alarming-truths-that-make-supplement.html  

19 Vitamin & Mineral Supplements: What Works and What’s Bogus http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2014/09/19-vitamin-mineral-supplements.html  

9 Quick Ways to Detect Online Supplement Scams http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2015/06/9-quick-ways-to-detect-online.html      

Supplemental Madness: Still More Evidence for the Uselessness of Dietary Supplements          http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/07/supplemental-madness-still-more.html    

Stronger Bones & Cancer Prevention? The Great Vitamin D Scam  https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/10/stronger-bones-cancer-prevention-great.html    

Walmart, Target & Alex Jones: Supplement Rip-Offs That Harm Your Health & Wallet http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/05/walmart-target-alex-jones-supplement.html 

Photo: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/pretty-little-liars-shreena-dew.html 

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


Post a Comment

Feel free to leave any comments...