Online advertisers beware. The Federal Trade Commission will soon adopt new regulations that change the long-time ad rules with the intent to prevent advertisers from making statements about products that are not true or that cannot be substantiated. A promotional practice called “astroturfing,” which is flooding the net with product reviews that contain false statements, may soon be history.
The Federal Trade Commission is apparently on the brink of updating its 29-year-old guidelines on product endorsements. While that threat has been looming for more than a year now, advertising lawyers say final rules are expected to be announced before the year is up. And the FTC, lawyers warn, will be making one thing clear: Phony online reviews will not be tolerated. . . . [T]he FTC . . . may be poised to require companies to provide proof to back up any claims about a product or a service.