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Skincare Influencer Susan Yara Apologizes for Misleading Fans By Promoting Brand She Secretly Owned

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  • Susan Yara, the influencer behind Mixed Makeup, is facing intense scrutiny online after announcing her new skincare line, Naturium.
  • Fans are outraged because products have been on sale since February, and Yara promoted it for months without ever disclosing she was the owner, a violation of Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
  • In fact, Yara offered coupon codes and told fans she learned of the brand after receiving it in PR, only adding disclosures on old posts after backlash over her announcement poured in.
  • Yara has apologized for misleading fans, explaining that she did so to earn unbiased feedback from friends and customers. Still, many have promised to submit complaints to the FTC.

Naturium’s Launch

Skincare influencer Susan Yara is facing serious backlash after revealing that she was secretly the owner of a new product line that she’s been publicly promoting for months.

On June 21, Yara, who owns the Mixed Makeup YouTube channel, released a video announcing the line, Naturium. For many in the industry, this would be a big milestone, however, the news has been met with a ton of outage.

That’s because Naturium products have actually been available for purchase since February and Sunday’s announcement only revealed that Yara was Naturium’s owner.

While many customers have been loving the products, her followers took issue with the fact that she promoted them without disclosing her ties to the company.

As far as why she kept her ties to Naturium quiet, she said in her announcement video, “it was really important to me to get honest and true feedback from everyone. And I, you know, took a step back and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to get that if I just announce this is my skincare line from the get-go.’”

She also said she delayed revealing it was her brand because of the cultural climate following the world-wide outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conflicts of Interest

The conflict of interest caused fans to question her integrity as they reflected on how she had misled them.

Fans said Yara made it seem like the brand was an independent company that approached her for a sponsorship deal. Screenshots from as far back as April were shared, showing Yara writing to the Mixed Makeup Facebook group, “Fan of The Ordinary? I have found a better brand called Naturium… I just want you guys  to use better products. Don’t fight me! Haha.”

Screenshot taken on June 21st of Susan Yara’s Beauty Questions Answered by MIXED MAKEUP Facebook Group.

When one person asked her, “how did you find them?” Yara replied, “They sent me a PR mailer when they launched! It’s really good!”

In another exchange about a pending review of the brand, Yara wrote, “Been working on so many brand reviews, this one might be at the bottom of the list. I can say I like everything I’ve tried so far though.”

On her Mixed Makeup YouTube channel, she also promoted the brand with videos like, “4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend.” That video’s thumbnail even displays Naturium as the only featured product. Beyond that, there are other videos that feature Naturium as a reviewed product.

A screenshot taken of “4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I Recommend” – Taken June 24, 2020.

Because of all this, fans were upset at her lack of transparency, flooding Yara’s social media with angry comments. One comment under Sunday’s “announcement” video, for example, reads: “Wow… you clearly don’t respect your viewers or your customers. Shame on you for lying. I would have been so excited to try this skincare line if it hadn’t been completely tainted by your manipulation and deceit. How disappointing.”

Screenshot of a comment from Introducing Naturium: My New Skincare Brand! – Taken June 24, 2020

Aside from leaving a bad taste in her fans’ mouths, many say this brand-strategy may end up backfiring because it now could be a case for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Since 2017, the agency has kept a sharp eye out for social media influencers who don’t properly disclose when a post is paid content, or when someone owns a brand they are promoting. One case, in particular, that is reminiscent of Yara’s situation is CS:GO Lotto.

The owners of CS:GO Lotto essentially did what Yara just did. They owned a business and promoted it while pretending they stumbled across it and had no relation to the brand. That’s illegal according to the FTC ACT. and the owners of that CS:GO Lotto eventually settled with the agency in 2017.

Since then, the FTC has issued clear advertising guidelines for content creators. Such guidelines include points like, “Clearly DISCLOSE when you have a financial or family relationship with a brand.” or “Ensure your sponsorship disclosure is HARD TO MISS,” among others.

The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media Influencers
FTC Influencer Guidelines. Via the Federal Trade Commission

At first glace, it doesn’t seem that Yara properly followed these guidelines, and in response, fans have allegedly been sending the FTC complaints.

Backtracking

After receiving backlash, Yara seems to have been trying to do some damage control by responding to comments on Instagram and apologizing for deceiving fans.

She also, according to Beauty Independent, released a statement saying, “I validated my true love for my brand as a reason to post. My intent was never to deceive my followers… In hindsight I should have waited to promote anything from the line until we were ready to announce my involvement.”

“I realize some of my viewers are disappointed in my strategy and I believe their feelings are justified,” she continued. “This has been an incredibly valuable lesson for me and my team. I’m very sorry if anyone felt I was manipulative, but I can assure you my intentions were good. I know that doesn’t make the situation better, so I apologize whole-heartedly.’

Beyond just apologizing to fans, Yara has gone back to every video on her channel that featured Naturium and added a disclaimer to the bottom of each description box.

“DISCLAIMER: I am a co-founder of NATURIUM and this description may contain affiliate links for a small commission on purchased products,” it reads. “Affiliate links support our channel, so we can continue to make fun videos for you. Thanks for watching and shopping!”

Screenshot of video description from 4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend – Taken June 24, 2020

However, while parts of Yara’s disclaimer existed before Sunday, the addition of “I am a co-founder of NATURIUM” was only added after Sunday’s backlash. Even with this edition, the post doesn’t comply with the FTC’s guidelines.

Part of the guidelines dictate that posts, “Don’t rely on disclosures that people will see only if they click “more,” but in order to properly see this disclaimer, a user would need to do just that.

Screen of video description froAffordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend – Taken June 24, 2020

Currently, there is no word on whether or not the FTC will take action, but it does, Yara could be liable for upwards of $40,000 per infringing post.

Others Dragged In

For a lot of fans, there’s still another issue with this entire ordeal: whether or not other influencers who reviewed the products knew about Yara’s involvement.

This list included people featured in the announcement video like Hyram, James Welsh,  Liah Yoo, and the channel Beauty Within. Yet, based on Yara’s announcement video, no one else knew it was her brand.

In an Instagram story Yara published Monday, she tried to shut down this claim, writing, “Hi everyone. I have seen the comments come through today and I’m very sorry I upset you… I can assure you no one knew about my involvement with NATURUM when they posted about the brand.”

Screenshot of @susanyara – Susan Yara’s Instagram Live Story – Taken June 23, 2020

Yara also added, “It was insinuated in a live today content creators knew more and that is completely false information.” Many fans thought this was a reference to Caroline Hirons, another skincare expert on the platform who hosted an hour-log Instagram live stream also on Monday. However, at no point in that stream did Hirons hint that anyone else knew.

She also added that she would be releasing a video on the topic “soon,” but as of June 24, no such video has been released.

A previous version of this story stated that Caroline Hirons insinuated in an hour-long live stream that other creators knew Susan Yara owned Nutrium. That is not the case, and this article has been updated to reflect that.

See What Others Are Saying: (Beauty Independent) (Daily Dot)

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Twitch Pulls Black Lives Matter Video Featuring Mostly White Streamers

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  • On Thursday, Twitch deleted and apologized for a Black Lives Matter compilation video that showcased a number of white streamers supporting the movement but featured very few Black creators.
  • In fact, the nearly one-minute video only had one line from a Black creator known as Zombaekillz, and Twitch overlaid audio of DrLupo—a white creator—on top of a clip of footage from another Black streamer, BlissKai.
  • A number of the streamers featured in the video have now spoken out about the criticism, with some agreeing and others disagreeing.
  • This video follows backslash Twitch faced earlier in the week for an LGBTQIA+ tweet that said the G “also stands for gamer.”

Twitch’s Mostly White “Black Lives Matter” Video

Twitch has deleted a controversial complication video it posted on Thursday that was meant to display solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; however, the video was quickly criticized as tone-deaf for featuring mostly-white creators.

The video was originally posted to Twitter with the caption “Working together to make an impact for Black lives,” according to the gaming outlet Polygon. 

While that video showcases a number of white creators advocating for racial justice— including DrLupo, Jacksepticeye, CrankGameplays, AshleyRoboto, and Charalanahzard—it only features one line from a Black streamer, Zombaekillz. 

“Black people don’t have the same right, and we don’t have the same power that people around us have here,” Zombaekillz said in the video, a quite ironic statement given Twitch’s inclusion of it around only white voices.

Other Black creators such as BlissKai were featured but had no lines. In fact, in the video, a clip of her is even overlaid with audio from DrLupo. In all, Black streamers only accounted for 11-seconds of the nearly minute-long video.

While the video also opens with a clip of a Black man speaking at a protest, he is not a known streamer on the platform.

Reaction and Apology

Much of the video includes streamers raising money for various Black Lives Matter-related charities. Shortly after Twitch posted it, the video was met with swift condemnation from Black streamers and BLM allies. 

One Black creator, Tanya DePass, blasted the platform and accused it of silencing Black voices.

“This is a whole bucket of fail,” DePass said. “There’s a WHOLE LOT of Black Creators on here who not only speak out on this ALL THE TIME, but don’t get any credit for it. Y’all are speaking over us. Highlight Black folks doing the work already.”

Notably, some also pointed out that DePass would have been a prime candidate for the video, as she raised over $140,000 during a 10-hour Animal Crossing live stream on the platform last month. Her original goal had been $500.

On Thursday, the same day the initial video was posted, Twitch removed it and issued an apology.

“We hear you,” the platform said. “Our goal was to demonstrate the importance of allyship—a message we didn’t make clear. Only by working together can we create a positive change.”

Creators in the Video Speak Out

A number of creators featured in the video have spoken out since Twitch deleted that video and apologized, including BlissKai and Zombaekillz.

“It sucks that Twitch deleted the tweet but it had to happen,” BlissKai said. “I want to see black gamers succeed & make a difference as well. My first ever huge thing from Twitch & I’m glad I even got a opportunity to see myself up there. Disappointed but Twitch just delivered the wrong it the way.”

Meanwhile, Zombaekillz commended the video for using lesser-known Black streamers, adding, “it also celebrated the actual and very real allyship of some creators during this time. AND AND… white people listen to white people.

While she noted that the video could have featured more Black voices, she said, “this is about incremental changes. Dismantling supremacy doesn’t happen immediately.”

“The reality is this video was about working together to uplift voices and showcasing people who are,” she continued. “People have missed the point.”

“Also, while you’re here and SO outraged over the lack of diverse voices.. make sure to go to my channel and support this very diverse voice. Put some of these words to ACTION…”

Also on Twitter, Charalanahzard said she had no knowledge of Twitch even using a clip from one of her streams until after Twitch posted its video. 

“Well, I had no idea this happened until just now, but want to be clear: I had absolutely no idea @Twitch was going to use a clip of me in the #BLM video they took down and am not cool with it at all,” she said. “I guess they own all content on their platform, but I’m shocked I wasn’t asked.”

Twitch Had to Revise a LGBTQIA+ Tweet, Too

Thursday’s video is not the first social media controversy of the week for Twitch. In fact, on Sunday, it posted a video that was meant to show support for queer rights that was partially captioned, “When the G in LGBTQIA+ also stands for Gamer.”

“I don’t in any way shape or form want to take away from the amazing humans in this video, the clips are wonderful,” creator Spofie said. “But can we remove this part?”

While the platform deleted the original video and quickly posted another without the controversial slogan, it did not publicly address its misstep.

See what others are saying: (Polygon) (Eurogamer) (Gamespot)

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The US is “Looking at” a Potential TikTok Ban, Pompeo Says as the Company Pulls Out of Hong Kong

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  • Early Monday, TikTok announced that it would be leaving the Hong Kong market over fears regarding China’s new national security law, which would require the company to hand over user data.
  • Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the U.S. is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
  • The Chinese-owned app has long been accused of giving data to the Chinese Communist Party, which it has repeatedly denied.
  • If put in place, an American ban would just be the latest national-restriction against TikTok. India banned the app on July 1 over similar fears that it gave away user data to Chinese authorities.

Could TikTok Face an American Ban?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Monday night that the United States was “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

When speaking to host Laura Ingraham about potential plans to restrict the app, Pompeo said, “We’re taking this very seriously, but we’re certainly looking at it. We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time.”

“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” he added.

Despite his claims, there haven’t been any concrete efforts made public yet. Still, when asked if he’d recommend for people to download TikTok, the Secretary of State replied, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

TikTok has adamantly claimed that despite its parent company ByteDance being based in China, TikTok itself isn’t controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, nor does it have deep ties with the party.

The app claims that the executives and managers who actually make decisions about its business and make its content rules are all outside of China. The company also states that Chinese authorities have no say in what is and isn’t allowed on the app, and lastly, that user data isn’t stored in China.

American authorities doubt these claims, as the company is owned by ByteDance, which is based in China and like most large Chinese companies, is thought to have close ties to the ruling Communist Party. Adding to the fuel that TikTok complies with Chinese authorities is the fact that ByteDance also owns its sister company, Douyin, which is essentially a Chinese version of TikTok.

A U.S. ban would be a massive loss for the company, which is home to some of its biggest creators. The app has also faced hurdles in India, where a ban went into effect on July 1 that blocked TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. The nation of over 1 billion is among its largest markets.

Australia has also floated the idea of banning the platform over concerns it inappropriately shares data with the Chinese government.

Pulling Out of Hong Kong

Aside from promising that it isn’t controlled by Chinese authorities, TikTok has also made recent moves to distance itself from the country. Hours before Pompeo spoke to Fox News, TikTok announced that it would be pulling out of the Hong Kong market over fears about a sweeping national security law imposed on the city by China on June 29.

According to TikTok, the app would be inoperable within Hong Kong in a few days. Additionally, it wouldn’t process data requests from China or Hong Kong police, although some current residents already say they can’t download the app.

Hong Kong authorities used the new national security law to release strict new rules regarding online posts. If police suspect an “electronic message” endangers “national security,” they can ask the publisher, platform, host, or network provider to remove or restrict access to it. Those who publish messages and don’t comply face a $100,000 fine and upwards of six months in jail.

Users who actually make the posts face a similar fine and up to a year in jail.

According to multiple reports, the rules explicitly allow authorities to jail employees at internet companies that don’t reply, regardless if they’re based in Hong Kong or not. It should be noted that punishment would only be applicable if one was to actually travel to Hong Kong or China, as most nations wouldn’t comply with another country claiming extraterritorial authority.

However, it still puts companies in an awkward position; comply with Chinese authorities and face backlash for caving on free speech, or disregard the rules and potentially risk employee safety and losing market access.

It wasn’t just TikTok that responded to the new rules, other tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter all said they would temporarily halt data requests from Hong Kong authorities as they decide what to do in the long run. All three had spokespeople and statements that were remarkably similar.

A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters, “We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.”

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” the statement continued.

Even though at face value it may seem like a hollow gesture, considering the fact that these companies are banned in China, it’s actually a big risk to a massive revenue stream. All three of those companies have major advertiser programs in China.

While they debate whether to comply with the law or not, it’s interesting to note that TikTok went further than the rest by actually pulling services out of the city. That might be because Hong Kong wasn’t a huge market for the company.

It consistently lost them money and only about 150,000 Hong Kongers used the app. Another facet that may limit the impact of “losing” Hong Kong is that TikTok’s sister app, Douyin, is still usable and popular in Hong Kong, despite not officially being available in the city.

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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“The Rock” Surpasses Kylie Jenner as Highest-Paid Star on Instagram

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  • After coming in at No. 6 last year, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has now skyrocketed to the top of Hopper HQ’s Instagram Rich List, with it estimating that he earns $1,015,00 per sponsored post.
  • Kylie Jenner, who he dethroned, now sits at No. 2, charging $986,000 per post.
  • Kim Kardashian West ranked No. 4 with $858,000, just a day after it was revealed that she sold 20% of KKW Beauty to Coty Inc. The deal values KKW Beauty at $1 billion and makes her net worth around $900 million.
  • TikTok stars Charlie D’Amelio and Addison Rae also captured attention for making it into the top 10 highest paid per post in the Lifestyle category, after rising to fame in under a year. 

Instagram’s Highest-Paid Users Revealed 

Kylie Jenner was officially dethroned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the highest-paid person on Instagram, according to Hopper HQ’s fourth annual “Instagram Rich List.” 

Hopper HQ, the social media planning tool behind the list, announced its new rankings Tuesday, which estimates how much high profile figures charge per sponsored post. According to the company, it uses “publically and privately available data to create the most accurate list possible.”

Last year, Jenner topped the company’s list, with it estimating that she earned $1,266,000 per sponsored post. At the time, Johnson took the No. 6 spot, raking in about $882,000 for each of his.

Since then, Johnson’s Instagram earning have jumped by 15%, helping him snatch the No. 1 slot with an estimated $1,015,00 per sponsored post. Jenner on the other hand, dropped by 22%, earning her the No. 2 title with $986,000 each.   

Jenner’s new ranking comes just a month after Forbes stripped her of her billionaire title when it accused her of exaggerating her cosmetic company’s earning. At the time, Jenner called the claims “inaccurate” and “unproven,” while her representatives said that neither she nor anyone from her team falsified tax returns or lied to claim the title. 

But even without the billionaire status, Jenner is still insanely wealthy. Forbes estimated her net worth at $900 million and just a few days after publishing its exposé, it ranked her as the highest-paid celebrity with an estimated $590 million in earnings over the last year. 

As far as the “Instagram Rich List” goes, celebrities that follow Jenner include Cristiano Ronaldo, Kim Kardashian West, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Beyonce Knowles, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift, to name a few.

Is Kim Kardashian a Billionaire? 

Kardashian West is another standout with her No. 4 ranking, charging an estimated $858,000 per post. That’s because the ranking comes just a day after reports that she sold a stake in her cosmetic brand, KKW Beauty, to Coty Inc for $200 million.

Last year, her youngest sister made headlines for striking a huge deal with the beauty brand, selling 51% of Kylie Cosmetics for $600 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.2 billion. 

But Kardashian West’s deal is a bit different. She only sold off a 20% stake in her business, leaving her with 72% and her mother, Kris Jenner, with 8%. According to Coty, she will remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Following the news, Kanye West congratulated his wife for “officially becoming a billionaire” with a bizarre photo of what appeared to be vegetables and flowers. 

However, as Forbes pointed out, this deal actually makes her net worth about $900 million and values KKW Beauty at $1 billion. 

Other Standouts on the 2020 Instagram Rich List 

Aside from “The Rock” and the Kardashian-Jenner rankings, there were some other notable standouts on Hopper HQ’s list.

In the beauty category, Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty made the top of the list with an estimated $91,800 per post. Far behind at No. 2 and 3 were beauty influencers James Charles and Jeffree Star, who charge an estimated $38,400 and $32,700 per sponsored post, respectively. 

In fashion, model Bella Hadid ranked No.1 with an estimated $91,900 per post, with Emily Ratajkowski following at No. 2 with $78,300. 

In sports, Cristiano Ronaldo maintained his top spot with $889,000 per paid post, followed by other huge names in soccer like Neymar Jr., Lionel Messi, and David Beckham. NBA star Lebron James ranked No. 5 with an estimated $307,000 for each of his.

But perhaps some of the most interesting numbers came from the Lifestyle category, which gave insight into the potential earnings of some popular influencers. 

Lele Pons ended up at the top of the list with an estimated $142,80 per sponsored post. She was followed by Sommer Ray, Zach King, and Cameron Dallas.

Others who made the top ten that probably won’t come as a surprise are longtime YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, also known as Pewdiepie, who came in at No. 5 with $72,500 and Viner turned YouTuber David Dobrik who ranked No. 7 with an estimated $69,900 per sponsored post. 

But some newcomers to the digital space that broke the top ten in this category are TikTokers 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio and 19-year-old Addison Rae Easterling. D’Amelio actually ranked above Dobrik at No. 6 with an estimated $71,200 per post. Easterling ranked just below him at No. 8 with $69,600 each. 

The Paul brothers then finish up the top ten with Logan at No. 9 and Jake at No. 10. However, the success of the two TikTok stars is arguably the most impressive considering how quickly they’ve exploded to popularity and expanded onto other sites. 

Easterling, for instance, only joined TikTok in July 2019 and is the second most followed person on the app with 48.2 million followers. Meanwhile, D’Amilio is the most followed person on the app with 66.9 million followers, and she joined in June of 2019.

See what others are saying: (Forbes) (LAD Bible) (Yahoo Lifestyle)

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Cristiano Ronaldo’s name.

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