Oct. 18, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against fake online reviews. Fake reviews, both positive and negative, are running the show online.

The FTC sent out a Notice of Penalty Offenses to 700 businesses. Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, and many, many other platforms and e-commerce giants are getting the notice. Here’s the list of the 700 October 2021 recipients of the Notice of Penalty Offenses.

As stated in the notice:

“Receipt of the notice puts your company on notice that engaging in conduct described therein could subject the company to civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.”

The FTC explains that the violations highlighted in the notification can include:

👉 Falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party

👉 Misrepresenting whether an endorser is an actual, current, or recent user

👉 Using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims

👉 Failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser

👉 Misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents consumers’ typical or ordinary experience.

The FTC has created endorsement guides to provide people information about what disclosures are required to be made between advertisers and endorsers. There are some sections in the guides pertinent to bloggers as well. Following the rules is for everyone, from bloggers to large enterprises.

FTC Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking

“The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make.”

The endorsement guides – truth in advertising – apply to all media, including social media.

Whether further legal action will be pursued by the FTC is to be determined. However, as popular as online advertising and marketing has become, it’s perhaps not surprising that there is a move to action by the FTC to keep a level and fair playing field in all advertising.

Alie Jules

Alie Jules
Founder of Strategy x Creative