Two companies and their principals have agreed to settle FTC allegations that they misled consumers by presenting paid endorsements as independent consumer reviews and ads as independent news stories.

Creaxion, a PR agency, was tasked with creating a campaign to promote a client’s new mosquito repellent product around the time the press was reporting about

This morning, the FTC announced that it had reached a settlement in its first-ever complaint against individual social media influencers and that it had sent warning letters to other prominent influencers. In addition, the FTC announced that it had updated previous guidance on influencer campaigns.

Settlement

The settlement involves Trevor Martin and Thomas Cassell, owners

In November, we posted that four consumer groups had sent letters to FTC, encouraging the agency to investigate and bring enforcement actions regarding the use of influencers on Instagram. In April, the FTC responded by sending more than 90 letters to companies and influencers, reminding the recipients of their legal obligations. Now, the consumer groups

Late last year, the Consumer Fairness Review Act became law, placing new restrictions on what companies can include in form contracts that impede consumers’ ability to communicate honest reviews of products, services, and companies in any forum. Quietly last month, the Federal Trade Commission released non-binding business guidance on how organizations can comply with the

The NAD recently announced a decision that touches upon various issues related to consumer reviews, including how paid endorsements should be disclosed, a company’s responsibilities regarding the content of endorsements, and the presentation of aggregate reviews.

FitTea

The FitTea website includes a “Results and Reviews” page. At the top of the page are a series of

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