FTC Cracks Down On Marketing Firm That Put Up Fake Reviews In iPhone App Store

from the review-turfing dept

While lots of us were quite concerned about how the FTC might enforce its seemingly arbitrary new disclosure guidelines, so far, it should be admitted, that the FTC has enforced these new rules carefully. It did, for example, warn clothing retailer Ann Taylor for giving gift cards to bloggers who covered their new line of clothes. That was interesting in that it targeted the retailer, rather than the bloggers themselves -- but was potentially problematic in that blaming a retailer for potential actions of bloggers doesn't seem like correct application of liability. Still, in that case, the FTC only issued a warning.

Now the FTC has announced a settlement with marketing firm Reverb Communications, who was accused of writing fake reviews of apps in the iPhone app store. This FTC action makes sense, as it's clearly a case of someone passing off a review as legit, when it was part of a marketing campaign:
That said, you could argue, at this point, that most people recognize that some percentage of online reviews come from insiders or friends anyway. And, considering that the FTC's explanation for why such rules did not apply to celebrities was that most people understand that celebrities get free stuff all the time, this all seems like something of an arbitrary standard. I don't have a problem with the FTC cracking down on these fake reviews, but it's still not clear that the FTC has an objective standard here, rather than an arbitrary one.

Filed Under: deception, ftc, marketing, reviews
Companies: ftc, reverb communications

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  1. identicon
    DirtyTrick, 27 Aug 2010 @ 7:28am

    This is serious. How would you like to compete against a company that bribes your potential customers with stock options? The same company has friends write totally false comments about your various products in various blogs. The same company has a reporter fired because he/she says something bad (but accurate)about their product. The same company convinces a well regarded equipment evaluator to run a phony test which makes their product look great and your product look inferior.

    Yes, this is all true. The stock option thing was in the Wall Street Journal but nothing happened...

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