DSSRC Administrative Closure #149
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) contacted a direct selling company (the “Company”) regarding one Facebook post and two TikTok posts disseminated by salesforce members of the Company. DSSRC was concerned that the Facebook post conveyed disease treatment claims and that the TikTok posts contained strong health-related product performance claims including claims that the Company’s products can treat and/or prevent COVID-19.
The Company promptly responded to DSSRC’s inquiry stating that it was already aware of the Facebook post and successfully had that post removed from circulation prior to its receipt of DSSRC’s inquiry.
With respect to the two TikTok posts, the Company provided DSSRC with a summary of its efforts to have such posts removed. Specifically, the Company informed DSSRC that it took the following steps on the day of its receipt of DSSRC’s inquiry:
- After a phone call attempt, the Company sent an email to the salesforce member explaining the violation and requesting compliance by editing or removing the two links that were in violation of the Company’s Policies and Procedures.
- The salesforce member responded via email stating that they have not sold the Company’s products for some time and that they have lost both the password and the email access to their TikTok account, thereby making them unable to remove the videos.
- Another email was sent by the Company including the salesforce member’s manager emphasizing the urgency of the violation and imploring the salesforce member to find a solution to the violations and to remove the videos.
- The salesforce member responded saying that they will attempt to regain access to their profile to delete the posts in question.
The next day the Company followed up with another email to the salesforce member. The salesforce member responded that they were still not able to recover the TikTok account and thereby could not remove or edit the posts in question. The Company then created a TikTok account and reported both posts to the platform requesting assistance in removing or flagging the posts in question. TikTok responded the following day stating that the reported content does not violate its community guidelines. The Company provided DSSRC with copies of both the requests and the response from the platform. The Company also suspended the salesforce member’s account with the Company.
As DSSRC has noted in several previous inquiries, once a direct selling company learns that an inactive salesforce member has disseminated a post that includes language not authorized by the company, the company should make a bona fide, good faith effort to contact the individual to request that the improper claim be removed. DSSRC also recommends that the company take additional steps to remove such claims from the marketplace including utilizing the mechanism that websites and social media platforms may have for removal of trademark or copyright violations. If the subject claim by a former salesforce member occurs on a platform without a reporting mechanism, DSSRC recommends that the company should also contact the platform in writing and request removal of the subject claim or post.
Under these circumstances, DSSRC determined that the Company’s prompt actions constituted a bona fide good faith effort to have the two videos removed from TikTok and, as a result of the Company’s good faith actions to address DSSRC’s concerns, DSSRC administratively closed this inquiry.
(closed on 3/31/2021)