Top 5 Social Media Influencer Lawsuits

Generic placeholder image
Rachel Jenkins

The term social media influencer now describes a role vastly different from what it did only a decade ago. Celebrities and a handful of random bloggers could claim the influencer title back then — but that’s all changed. Now, anyone viewed as an expert in their niche can serve as an influencer, mainly because it requires a dedicated social following. However, this role comes with plenty of risks, and most influencers aren’t aware of these exposures. This post covers some of the most significant lawsuits social media influencers faced recently. 

Risks Social Media Influencers Face

Before we examine lawsuits, let’s look at what influencers must traverse online. To begin, becoming a social media influencer is more than merely posting your opinions on a platform and expecting the world to welcome you with open arms. An influencer is accountable for everything they say, leaving the door open for plenty of lawsuits. Although influencer insurance works to protect these individuals, the following are three of the most significant risks social media influencers face.

  • Defamation can occur purposefully or unintentionally, and it usually falls under the categories of libel or slander. Publishing a false statement, sometimes cloaked as an opinion, is known as written defamation. Transparency is the leading way to avoid this risk. 
  • Personal injuries, otherwise known as advertising injuries, impact the reputation of a business or person. Someone might take personal offense, or a company could suffer reputational loss, customer termination, and financial damage because of something an influencer posted online.
  • Regulations are often tricky to comply with, but compliance helps safeguard influencers — and keeps lawsuits at bay. For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has mounds of poorly-followed regulations, such as using #sponsored or #ad hashtags to identify sponsored content. 

5 Social Media Lawsuits

Mistakes occur on social media frequently and effortlessly. Here are five social media lawsuits that none of us will forget anytime soon. 

1. The Fyre Festival

Over three years and two documentaries have passed since the Fyre Festival incident, and lawsuits are still raging. Billy McFarland is serving a 6-year prison term and facing a case mounting $100 million for masterminding the entire get-rick-quick scam.

To recap, McFarland orchestrated an elaborate Instagram campaign involving Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, and Emily Ratajkowski. The legal documents report Jenner was paid $275,000 for a single (and misleading) Instagram post, and Ratajkowski was paid $299,000 for her promotions. Most online activities failed to disclose that it was paid advertisement, misleading followers in several ways. 

The Fyre Festival held at Great Exuma in the Bahamas was a complete and utter disaster. Due to a severe lack of organization, festival-goers were mostly left to fend for themselves without adequate shelter, food, medical supplies, internet, and other accommodations, until being returned to Miami.

2. Bethany Mota and Studio 71

In one of the first influencer cases, Studio 71, a media production agency, allegedly offered Bethany Mota $325,000 to fly her and her father/manager to Kauai, Hawaii. The goal of the luxurious trip was for Mota to record an influencer video using a specific skincare product. 

After submitting the video to Studio 71, the agency disapproved of Mota’s clip, claiming it didn’t include the Hawaiian footage. This footage was deemed a “crucial creative component,” and the entire reason they paid for her trip to Kauai. Studio 71 is seeking damages, declaring that it doesn’t need to pay Mota for the campaign.

3. Snap Inc. and Luke Sabbat

Snapchat regretted striking a deal with Grown-ish star Luke Sabbat, alleging Sabbat didn’t uphold his end of the agreement. Sabbat was contracted to promote glasses made by Snapchat, Snap Spectacles, in one Instagram feed and three post stories. Snap Inc. sued Sabbat, seeking $45,000 for damages to recoup the initial contractual payment and another $45,000 for damages. In the end, Sabbat only agreed to return $15,000. 

4. Konus and Luke Sabbat

Unfortunately, the case with Snapchat wasn’t Luke Sabbat’s only experience with social media influencer lawsuits. Sabbat participated in a photoshoot for streetwear brand Konus, agreeing to share two permanent posts on Instagram with specific tags. 

Again, Sabbat was sued for breaking the contract. This time, Konus’s parent company, Catwalk to Sidewalk Inc., brought a case against Sabbat, claiming that he never shared any promotional posts on Instagram. After already paying Sabbat’s agency $30,090 for the arrangement, Konus is seeking $40,000 in damages. 

5. DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather

Investors in a cryptocurrency venture called Centra Tech sued two famous social media influencers, DJ Khaled and the highest-paid athlete in 2017, boxer Floyd Mayweather. Khaled touted Centra Tech as a “game changer,”  and Mayweather told his followers, “You can call me Floyd ‘Crypto’ Mayweather from now on.” 

Centra Tech’s founders have been charged with several federal crimes after raising $32 million. Securities and wire fraud are among the allegations. Investors are taking civil action, claiming that the farce wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand if the two influencers hadn’t promoted it. 

What Is Scale Social?

One of the most dynamic elements of each case is that influencers are becoming more and more accountable with each passing year. Not only is the FTC buckling down on social media influencers, but companies are developing stricter stipulations in contracts, as well. While neither of these outcomes is innately evil, it does mean that influencers need to protect themselves from particular risks. 

As an innovative solution, we present Scale Social, an insurance product designed to protect influencers against lawsuits relating to their social media activities. Although it’s customized to individual influencers, this policy is similar to what media agencies purchase — but it’s more budget-friendly. 

Not only does Scale Social provide vital coverage, but it lands you on the most-wanted list of influencers as most companies require a particular level of insurance coverage nowadays. Here are the product features:

  • Up to $5,000,000 limits available 
  • Advertising exposure: A claim for breach of contract from the advertising agent or brand
  • Publishing exposures: Libel (defamation), Copyright & trademark, Breach of confidentiality, Bodily injury (arising from content) – Particularly influencers promoting health foods, Negligent misstatements.
  • Regulatory exposures: Failure to disclose paid endorsement. – Federal Trade Commission Investigation and Defence Costs
  • Crisis management costs available (sub-limited) backed by a global crisis assistance company.

If you’d like to know more about Scale Social, we’d be happy to talk! After all, understanding the details of what coverage your company needs can be a confusing process. Founder Shield specializes in knowing the risks your industry faces to make sure you have adequate protection. Feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll walk you through the process of finding the right policy for you. 

Want to know more about influencer insurance? Talk to us! You can contact us at ​​ or create an account ​here​ to get started on a quote.

Related Articles

August 11 • Risk Management Tips

Top 4 Grant Resources for Tech Startups

Tech startups have plenty of funding available if leaders look in the right places. This post uncovers the top grant resources and where to apply for them. Let’s go!

June 29 • NewsRisk Management Tips

5 Key Takeaways from the Sequoia Memo — Y Combinator & LightSpeed Chime In

The “leaked” Sequoia memo, Adapting to Endure, highlights several concepts for startups and businesses backed by venture capital. Here’s our key takeaways.

June 13 • Cyber Liability

Ransomware Defense — 5 Tips to Protect Your Business

With cyber attacks on the rise for technology and late-stage companies, it’s up to risk management teams to build fortifying ransomware defense — here’s how.

May 16 • Guest PostRisk Management Tips

How D&O Insurance Leaves SME Business Sellers at Risk

Most SME business sellers rely solely on D&O insurance, but that strategy still leaves them exposed. Our guest author from CFC outlines the risks and offers a better solution.

Cybersecurity quiz
April 25 • Cyber Liability

Cybersecurity Stats of 2022: Data Protection Pro or Novice? [Quiz]

Cybersecurity concerns skyrocketed during the past few years, especially for small businesses and technology companies — but how cyber literate are we really? Let’s find out!

March 22 • Cyber Liability

How “Dark Patterns” Impact Data Protection

Dark patterns are everywhere, from confusing ecommerce checkouts to unsubscribe links — and they impact data protection. Let’s talk about it.