DSSRC Administrative Closure #72

DSSRC contacted a direct selling company regarding three Facebook posts disseminated by its salesforce members. The subject social media posts came to DSSRC’s attention pursuant to its independent monitoring of advertising in the direct selling marketplace. Specifically, DSSRC expressed concern that the social media posts conveyed unsubstantiated health-related benefit claims related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first post featured a photograph of the Company’s product and referenced the pandemic in the post’s accompanying text. The post also included two hashtags: #protect yourself and #protectothers.  A second post made specific reference to the coronavirus and noted that use of the Company’s product might help “improve the odds” of not catching the virus. The third post included language pertaining to “boosting your immune system” along with the hashtag #corona.

DSSRC advised the Company of the problematic posts noting that the FTC has cautioned direct selling companies that there is currently no product available to treat the coronavirus or its symptoms. In the Company’s response, DSSRC was informed that the three posts at issue were disseminated by the Company’s salesforce in Europe and that it had notified the Company’s District Manager in the region where the social media posts originated. In addition, the Company represented to DSSRC that the first post had been removed and that the other posts were being addressed.

Based upon the Company’s response that the social media posts at issue originated outside of the United States, DSSRC had little recourse but to administratively close the inquiry as the jurisdiction of DSSRC is limited to the review of product and business opportunity claims that originate in the United States. Notwithstanding the limits of DSSRC’s jurisdiction, the Company assured DSSRC that it had made a good faith effort to contact the salesforce members responsible for the posts and that it was in the process of taking the appropriate enforcement actions to address the matter which could result in the suspension or expulsion of the salesforce members responsible for the claims.

Accordingly, pursuant to the voluntary actions taken by the direct selling company and the fact that the advertising falls outside of the jurisdictional purview of DSSRC, the case was administratively closed. DSSRC will nevertheless continue to monitor the status of the claims. 

(closed on 9/15/2020)