DSSRC Administrative Closure #237

The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) contacted a direct selling company (the “Company”) regarding six social media posts that were disseminated on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest that were identified by DSSRC pursuant to its ongoing, independent monitoring of the direct selling industry.

Collectively, the posts communicated the message that the Company’s products could treat a number of serious health-related conditions including, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression, high cholesterol, liver dysfunction, menstrual problems and heart disease. Four of the six posts were disseminated by salesforce members located overseas.

Shortly after receipt of DSSRC’s Notice of Inquiry, the Company promptly contacted the salesforce members responsible for the posts and was successful in effectuating the discontinuance of five of the six posts. The remaining Pinterest post was disseminated by a salesforce member residing in Ghana. The Company made a concerted effort to contact the salesforce member responsible for the remaining post, but its attempts were unsuccessful. Because of the egregiousness of the claims, DSSRC agreed that the Company’s actions were necessary and appropriate. As DSSRC has noted in past cases, it is well established that health-related claims must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The Federal Trade Commission generally defines competent and reliable scientific evidence as: “test, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area that has 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.”

The Company recognized that the product claims at issue were not appropriate and did not attempt to provide evidence to support the claims. Conversely, it was determined that the Company made a good faith attempt to address DSSCR’s concerns and have the posts removed. With respect to the remaining post at issue, DSSRC recommended that the Company contact Pinterest to inquire if the platform has a reporting mechanism for intellectual property violations and contact Pinterest in writing to advise them of the false and inaccurate health claims being disseminated on its platform and request removal of the post.

Based upon the Company’s bona-fide efforts to address DSSRC’s concerns, DSSRC administratively closed this inquiry.

(Administrative Closure #237, closed on April 29, 2022)
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