Fake online reviews: U.S. proposes bans

Washington –

Federal regulators in the United States aim to crack down on fake reviews and other deceptive internet practices.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Friday proposed new rules that would ban things like paying for reviews, suppressing honest reviews and selling fake social media engagement. Companies are also prohibited from operating self-administered websites that claim to be independent, as well as deceptive practices such as “review hijacking,” which makes reviews of one product look like they were written for an entirely different product.

Violators could face heavy penalties if the proposed rule is approved after a 60-day public comment period.

“Our proposed rule on fake reviews shows that we are going to great lengths to attack deceptive advertising in the digital age,” FTC Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levin said in a statement. ‘ said. “The rule will impose civil penalties on violators and should help level the playing field for honest businesses.”

The FTC noted in Friday’s notice to the proposed rulemaking that it already considers false reviews and other deceptive practices illegal, but the new ban “increases the deterrence against these practices. It could,” he said, enabling civil penalties and helping to obtain financial compensation for victims. said the agency.

Researchers at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management estimate that between 4% and more than 30% of online reviews are bogus. According to 2021 statistics from the World Economic Forum and CHEQ, fake reviews affect about $152 billion in global spending each year.

In addition to the FTC’s past efforts to combat fake reviews, including multi-million dollar settlements with online retailers, more companies are now taking online deception seriously, he said.

Last July, for example, Amazon filed a lawsuit against the managers of more than 10,000 Facebook groups, alleging they coordinated fake reviews in exchange for money or free products. We will file four additional lawsuits against fraudsters.” Misleading Amazon customers and harming Amazon Selling Partners by promoting fake reviews. “

Earlier this month, Google announced legal action against “bad actors” who posted more than 350 fraudulent Google business profiles and tried to promote it with more than 14,000 fake reviews, the company said.

The FTC’s proposal on Friday follows the agency’s November announcement that it would consider rulemaking.

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