The FTC also mentions the threat of AI chatbots flooding the marketplace with additional fake reviews.
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The Federal Trade Commission is pushing to explicitly ban fake reviews and other tactics that companies exploit to receive favorable ratings for their products.
The US regulator proposed(Opens in a new window) the new rule today to help you crack down on shady marketing tactics, which may include buying positive reviews or trying to remove negative reviews.
“The rule would trigger civil penalties for violators and should help level the playing field for honest businesses,” said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine.
The proposed rules would also prohibit companies from repurposing consumer reviews from one product to another. Additionally, it would prohibit employees from posting positive ratings for their own company’s products without clear disclosure.
In introducing the new proposal, the FTC mentions the rise of AI chatbots and how they could make it easier for anyone to flood the marketplace with fake reviews. Another restriction would prohibit a company from “controlling a website that claims to provide independent opinions about a category of products or services that includes its own products or services.”
Posting fake reviews or buying favorable ratings is already illegal under FTC rules, but not explicitly. Instead, the Commission has cracked down on violators, citing them for engaging in unfair or deceptive commercial acts.
However, a 2021 Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult for the FTC to return illicitly obtained profits to consumers through unfair or deceptive business practices. As a result, the US regulator now wants to implement a clear rule banning fake reviews. Doing so could “increase deterrence against these practices in the first instance and will allow the Commission to more easily pursue civil penalties against violators and obtain monetary relief for their victims,” the FTC said in a 100-page document (Opens in a new window ) about the new rules.
The FTC will seek public comment on the proposed rules before considering the amendments. “After the Commission reviews the comments received, it will decide whether to take the next steps necessary to issue a final rule,” it added.