The FTC May Start Banning Fake Reviews
The Federal Trade Commission proposed a new rule to stop marketers from using illicit review and endorsement practices such as using fake reviews, suppressing honest negative reviews, and paying for positive reviews, which deceive consumers looking for real feedback on a product or service and undercut honest businesses.
“Our proposed rule on fake reviews shows that we’re using all available means to attack deceptive advertising in the digital age,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The rule would trigger civil penalties for violators and should help level the playing field for honest companies.”
In its notice of proposed rulemaking, the Commission cited examples of clearly deceptive practices involving consumer reviews and testimonials from its past cases, and noted the widespread emergence of generative AI, which is likely to make it easier for bad actors to write fake reviews.
The Commission is seeking comments on proposed measures that would fight these clearly deceptive practices.
For example, the proposed rule would prohibit:
Selling or Obtaining Fake Consumer Reviews and Testimonials: The proposed rule would prohibit businesses from writing or selling consumer reviews or testimonials by someone who does not exist, who did not have experience with the product or service, or who misrepresented their experiences. It also would prohibit businesses from procuring such reviews or disseminating such testimonials if the businesses knew or should have known that they were fake or false.
Review Hijacking: Businesses would be prohibited from using or repurposing a consumer review written for one product so that it appears to have been written for a substantially different product. The FTC recently brought its first review hijacking enforcement action.
Buying Positive or Negative Reviews: Businesses would be prohibited from providing compensation or other incentives conditioned on the writing of consumer reviews expressing a particular sentiment, either positive or negative.
My Comments….. I do think this is great, little unsure about how things would get investigated and then enforced? Overall the reviews and testimonials have been so abused most of us don’t even bother with it any more. Today we almost expect the reviews to be from family, friends, and shills. Maybe after time this will restore some faith in the process again?