The Ninth Circuit recently reaffirmed the protection afforded to website providers and users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In that case, a locksmith sued Yelp over a bad review and one-star rating that had been posted by a consumer. The locksmith accused Yelp of being responsible both for creating the review and

This week, four groups – Public Citizen, Commercial Alert, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and the Center for Digital Democracy – sent a joint letter to FTC encouraging the agency to “investigate and bring enforcement actions related to the practice of non-disclosed advertising through influencer user profiles on Instagram.”

As we reported last

Traditionally, when companies wanted to advertise that consumers preferred their product over another product, the companies would substantiate their claim by running a survey. Consumers would be stopped in a mall, called, or contacted online, and asked their opinions. Now that many consumers freely post their opinions online, though, some companies are wondering whether they

A growing number of consumers read reviews before they decide to purchase a product. Because of this – as we’ve posted various times – regulators and competitors are keeping a watchful on eye reviews that seem biased or inauthentic. The latest challenge comes from a world that isn’t known for its advertising challenges: the world

Last year, we posted about a settlement between the FTC and Machinima over an influencer campaign. This week, the NY Attorney General announced a settlement with Machinima over the same campaign, along with settlements with three other companies that allegedly solicited false endorsements.

In 2013, Machinima paid gaming “influencers” to post videos endorsing Microsoft’s Xbox

One maker of insect-control products (United Industries Corporation) challenged claims made by another maker of similar products (The Scotts Company) at the NAD. Among the issues in the challenge was a sweepstakes that Scotts had run to help generate reviews of its products. As part of the sweepstakes, every consumer who submitted a review would

In January 2014, AdAge interviewed me about news reports that Machinima had hired influencers to create videos promoting Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console and games. In a native advertising campaign, the influencers posted positive reviews, but didn’t disclose that they had been paid to do so. During the interview, we speculated about whether the FTC

The NAD recently determined that Euro-Pro could not support a claim that its Shark vacuum receives “more 5-star online reviews than any other vacuum brand.” To support the claim, Euro-Pro had looked at over 4,000 verified reviews on the websites of several major national retailers. Despite the number of reviews included in the analysis, the

Consumers often read reviews before buying a product or signing up for a service. Because of that, many companies closely monitor what consumers say about them online, and even take steps to generate positive buzz. One way companies do that is by incentivizing happy customers to write reviews. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with

In previous posts, we’ve noted that if a person who writes a review about a product has a connection to the company that makes the product, that connection should be clearly disclosed. The types of connections that trigger this disclosure requirement include things such as payments, free products, and, of course, employment.

According to press