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Instagram has become a profitable place for influencers–they can make a quick buck simply by endorsing a company’s “wellness product,” like Flat Tummy Tea, on their accounts. That can go awry when those influencers don’t share the correct information and risks of using those products.
For example, in 2015, Kim Kardashian was paid by a Canadian pharmaceutical company to share an anti-nausea medication with her Instagram followers. Unfortunately, Kardashian didn’t share the risks of taking the medication, leading the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to intervene.
This, in part, led Seed, a health company that sells probiotic supplements, to create Seed University. The “university” aims to educate prospective endorsers of its product before sharing it with their thousands to millions of followers.
“The internet means more connection, more content, and more cat memes. But it also means misinformation can spread faster and deeper than truth, especially when it comes to our health,” Seed’s website reads.
The hour-long course teaches influencers about microbiomes, probiotics, and the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) guidelines on product endorsement.
There have been several “universities” or “schools” that aim to teach social media users how to be influencers. For example, YouTuber Jake Paul created a school to mold social media stars in 2018. Other programs include courses that teach influencers how to brand themselves and even those that let wannabe influencers earn a degree in social media influencing.
But Seed University may be the first to emphasize accountability in sharing the correct information about a product with trusting fans.
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Katie Balevic is an editorial intern at the Daily Dot where she enjoys covering social justice issues and politics. Her previous work has appeared in the Daily Texan, the Victoria Advocate, and the Houston Defender.