DSSRC Administrative Closure #209
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) contacted a direct selling company (“Company”) regarding eight Facebook that were disseminated by the Company’s salesforce members. The social media posts at issue referenced the ability of the Company’s products to address, among other conditions, pain, anxiety, depression, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia and high blood pressure.
The Company informed DSSRC that its goal is to proactively monitor its salesforce members activities online through resources such as its partnership with a reputable monitoring company. The Company promptly attempted to contact each salesforce members responsible for the posts at issue to discuss the reasons why the posts were inappropriate. As a result of its efforts, the Company was able to effectuate immediate removal of six of the eight posts. The two remaining posts originated from inactive salesforce members. The Company provided DSSRC with copies of the correspondence that it sent to communicate with those individuals.
DSSRC agreed that the actions taken by the Company were necessary and appropriate. More specifically, it is well established that the evidentiary burden for health-related claims is competent and reliable scientific evidence. Competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), includes, “tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner, by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results. Accordingly, in the absence of reliable evidence supporting the message that the stated results can be generally expected by consumers, DSSRC agreed that the claims were inappropriate in the context in which they were communicated by salesforce members.
With respect to the remaining social media posts from inactive salesforce members, DSSRC noted that when a direct selling company is made aware of an improper product (or income) claim that was made by an individual that was an active distributor when such claim was made but that has since become an inactive distributor of the company, it is understood that the direct selling company may not be able to require the former distributor to remove such claim. In that instance, if the social media platform where the subject post was made provides a mechanism for reporting trademark or copyright violations, DSSRC recommends that the direct selling company promptly utilize such mechanism and seek removal of the subject claims and posts. If the subject claim that came to the attention of the direct selling company occurred on a website or platform without a reporting mechanism, DSSRC recommends that in addition to contacting the former distributors in writing as described above, the Company contact the website or platform in writing and request removal of the subject claim or post
Based upon the good faith efforts demonstrated by the Company to address DSSRC’s self-regulatory concerns DSSRC administratively closed this inquiry.
(Administrative Closure #209, closed on November 8, 2021)
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