Could Elizabeth Hurley and Lily Allen be tweeting their way to jailbird status? Not quite, but British officials are looking to crack down on Hurley, Allen and other U.K.-based celebs over allegations they were paid by companies to plug certain brands on Twitter.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in the U.K. issued a statement saying users who don't disclose endorsement deals (including comments on Twitter) are being "deceptive."
So, what exactly kind of tweets are being targeted?
Exhibit A from Hurley, who has been a spokeswoman for Este Lauder for 17 years: "Packing for Barcelona...about to slap on some Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess fake tan" and "Oooh, best mascara ever, Estee Lauder's Sumptuous."
And how about this dandy from Allen, who has 2.5 million Twitter faithful: "Whoop Whoop!!! Grey Goose in the house" (accompanied by a pic of vodka bottles). The liquor company often sponsors cocktails in Allen's clothing store in London.
Reps for both stars have declined to say whether they are tweeting under contract. But the OFT is already going after one establised British PR firm for secretly paying stars to take their plugs to social media sites--a violation of a 2008 U.K. consumer protection law.
In 2009, the FTC set up similar guidelines for U.S.-based celebrity endorsers like Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan, ensuring they label any paid tweets accordingly.
"People shouldn't be misled," the OFT said. "If someone has been paid to advertise a product they should declare it. It's not specific to celebrities." And if Hurley or Allen is found to be in violation, it could cost them. The OFT can seek an order that could lead to a criminal prosecution and an unlimited fine.