As consumers rely more and more on the “independent” reviews of their peers in choosing products and services, advertisers need to remain vigilant that their role (if any) in disseminating such reviews is fairly disclosed, accurate and not misleading. The pitfalls in this area were recently illustrated by a pair of enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau. These actions, the latest in a series of similar enforcement efforts, confirm that review sites remain a hotbed of enforcement activity, and both actions serve as good reminders of the standards that review sites must observe to avoid similar actions.
The first of these actions is an FTC enforcement against LendEDU, which centered around the “objective,” “honest,” “accurate,” and “unbiased” rankings of financial products that LendEDU posted to its review site. The FTC alleged that, far from being objective and honest, these rankings were in fact determined based on compensation from the companies being ranked. In addition, the FTC alleged that over ninety percent of LendEDU’s “unbiased” positive reviews were in fact written by LendEDU employees and their friends and families.
Continue Reading FTC and NAD Actions Highlight Continued Scrutiny of Online Reviews