Late last week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that it had updated its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (“Endorsements Guides”) to clarify guidance for advertisers with the goal of combating deceptive reviews and endorsements in violation of the FTC Act. According to the FTC’s announcement, the revisions include:
1) articulating a new principle regarding procuring, suppressing, boosting, organizing, publishing, upvoting, downvoting, or editing consumer reviews so as to distort what consumers think of a product; 2) addressing incentivized reviews, reviews by employees, and fake negative reviews of a competitor; 3) adding a definition of “clear and conspicuous” and saying that a platform’s built-in disclosure tool might not be an adequate disclosure; 4) changing the definition of “endorsements” to clarify the extent to which it includes fake reviews, virtual influencers, and tags in social media; 5) better explaining the potential liability of advertisers, endorsers, and intermediaries; and 6) highlighting that child-directed advertising is of special concern.
The full set of revised Endorsement Guides is located here. Additionally, the FTC updated its Endorsement Guides Q&A, located here, which contains new questions and guidance on complying with the Endorsement Guides. According to the FTC’s announcement, the updated Q&A contains guidance for influencers on when and how to disclose material connections across different kinds of platforms, views about brand monitoring of influencers and platform disclosure tools, and discussion of issues with online reviews (e.g. incentives and treatment of negative feedback).