The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says it will impose fines on companies that use fake online reviews or other deceptive endorsements to deceive their customers.
The US government agency announced it on Wednesday after sending letters warning more than 700 large companies not to use such illegal practices in their online marketing and advertising campaigns, as they could lead to severe penalties. .
“Receipt of the notice warns your business that engaging in the conduct described therein could subject it to civil penalties of up to $ 43,792 per violation,” said Serena Viswanathan, Associate Director of the FTC , in the letter.
“FTC staff do not target your business or suggest that you have engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct.
“We distribute similar letters and the notice widely to major corporations, major advertisers, major retailers, major consumer product companies and major advertising agencies.”
They were also instructed to distribute the letter and notice of penalty infringement to all affiliates selling services and products within the borders of the United States.
The full list of companies that received the FTC warning letter includes many top companies including Adobe, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, BestBuy, Burger King, Chipotle, Dell, eBay, Expedia, Google, KFC, Macy’s, Microsoft, McDonald’s, PayPal, Tesla, Uber, UPS, Valve, Walgreen, Walmart, Wendy ‘, Yelp and many more.
As detailed in the notice received by hundreds of businesses this week, illegal acts and practices that could result in penalties include:
- falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party; claim that an endorser is an actual user, a current user or a recent user; continue to use an endorsement without a valid reason to believe that the endorser continues to subscribe to the views presented;
- misrepresent that an endorsement represents the experience, views or opinions of users or intended users;
- use an endorsement to make misleading performance claims;
- failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser;
- and distort that the endorser experience represents the typical or ordinary experience of consumers.
This warning was triggered by an explosion of endorsements and misleading reviews in online marketplaces, a trend further amplified in recent years by social media, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between advertising and content. authentic.
The FTC issued its first mentoring criminal offense in 1941 against Wilbert W. Haase Co., Inc and the last in 1984 against Cliffdale Assocs., Inc.
“False reviews and other forms of deceptive endorsements deceive consumers and undermine honest businesses,” added Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Office of Consumer Protection.
“Advertisers will pay a price if they engage in these deceptive practices.”
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