Monday, August 10, 2009

Growing Price of 'Astroturf'

WHGS buildings and fieldsImage via Wikipedia

Regulators are cracking down on dubious endorsements of online products and faux reviews by marketers.

"Astroturfing," a marketing practice so-named because it involves seeding the Internet with fake testimonials and reviews of products, is coming under fire both here and abroad from government officials and consumer watchdog groups. The European Union has instructed member nations to prohibit individuals from falsely portraying themselves as consumers of a product or service promoted on the Web.

Closer to home, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this summer will shore up its guidelines to clarify its opposition to trumped up online reviews. Recently, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo forced Lifestyle Lift, Inc., a cosmetic surgery practice,
to fork over $300,000 after it had its employees write glowing tributes about the business while pretending to be satisfied customers, .

Recently, the travel Website, TripAdvisor, warned visitors that several of its 400,000 customer reviews of places to stay may have been written by hoteliers. In January 2009, Belkin Electronics apologized on its Website for the actions of a sales rep who paid a fee to individuals to write positive online reviews and to flag negative product reviews as "not helpful."

The FTC for more than two decades has required product endorsements to be honest opinions from actual consumers and has mandated disclosure of payments or other circumstances that might taint the credibility of the testimonials. An April survey of more than 1,000 adults by Opinion Research Corp. revealed 84 percent said they were influenced in their online purchases by favorable customer evaluations.

Probably an inopportune time to note that :"The Unruly of Law" has received 5 platinum stars and 4 opposable thumbs-up for its thoughtful coverage of media law and journalism issues from a group whose acronym is too long to repeat here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 comment:

  1. The group's name is The Product Of A Mad Night Of Love Between Clarence Darrow And William Allen White Society. (TPOAMNOLBCDAWAWS) "TRAPDAWS" for short. Thank you.