Amazon, Walmart, and hundreds more companies were warned by regulators that they could face steep fines if they use fake reviews or other deceptive endorsements

Business Insider
Business Insider
  • The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on misleading endorsements like fake online reviews.
  • The agency warned more than 700 companies, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target, about the issue.
  • Companies could have to pay up to $43,792 per violation if caught using deceptive endorsements.

The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on endorsements that deceive shoppers.

The agency said in a press release last week that it has sent notices to more than 700 companies, warning that they could face steep fines for using misleading endorsements like fake reviews .

"The rise of social media has blurred the line between authentic content and advertising, leading to an explosion in deceptive endorsements across the marketplace," the release says. "Consequently, the FTC is now using its Penalty Offense Authority to remind advertisers of the law and deter them from breaking it."

The list of companies that were sent the notice includes Apple , Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, Target, Tesla, and more. The FTC notes, however, that "a recipient's presence on this list does not in any way suggest that it has engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct" and that letters were sent to "an array of large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, top consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies."

The letter puts the companies on notice that they could face fines of up to $43,792 per violation if they use practices that the FTC has deemed unfair or deceptive in previous administrative cases.

"Fake reviews and other forms of deceptive endorsements cheat consumers and undercut honest businesses," said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in the release. "Advertisers will pay a price if they engage in these deceptive practices."

According to the release, these practices include things like "falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party; misrepresenting whether an endorser is an actual, current, or recent user; using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims; failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser; and misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents consumers' typical or ordinary experience."

Earlier this year, the UK consumer rights group found that websites were selling fake reviews to Amazon sellers hoping to improve their products' ratings . In June, Britain's competition regulator said it had opened an investigation into whether Amazon and Google had taken sufficient action to prevent fake reviews on their websites. Amazon said that month that social media companies need to do more to address "bad actors" soliciting fake reviews .

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Comments / 222

Diane Conz

Politicians are deceptiveand they dont get fined ! Why isnt it ? I dont wanna hear one peep about anyone breaking laws , until our president and his staff start obeying the law noone else should be held accountable either!!

Tony the Tiger

one way to spot a fake review when there are tons of pictures. another way is broken English. if you shop these online store's one does learn what a fake or real review is. unfortunately the fake reviewers have gotten better. good thing we can research products now days. which I do on the more costly items I may buy.I'm more concerned with the sale of knock offs.

Don England

I'll never do business with Walmart again, they have theives selling on their website and will do absolutly nothing about it when you get taken. They don't even remove them when they steal from you....


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