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"FTC Crack Down on "fake reviews'"-opinions please

Posts: 14
Joined: 24 Jun 09

"FTC Crack Down on "fake reviews'"-opinions please

Hey Guys,

The email text below is from Jeff Johnson about "review sites" warning that the FTC is cracking down. I'm still pretty new to the IM world, so I'd love your opinions on this. Is he making a "mountain out of a mole hill"? Just curious, as I'm off to build my first review site. Thanks, to everyone in advance. I'm loving this program.

Begin quote:
"Do NOT use the "fakereview blog" techniques there were showing in their pre-launch videos.

I have never used fake review blogs to sell products...

And neither should you because the FTC is going after people who set up "fake review blogs" to promote products.

The FTC is also cracking down on the use of testimonials in advertisements and on salesletters... there have always been rules, but they are being more aggressive about enforcing them these days.

Even the FDA warned Cheerios that they have to either remove those "lowers cholesterol" studies from their box, or register Cheerios as a drug with the FDA. Cheerios as a drug... that would be funny if anyone other than the FDA said it.

The moral of the story is... be careful about everything you do online, and don't ever use a fake review blog to promote products......


Jeff Johnson "

End quote, some non-relevant text was removed from the email.
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Posts: 98
Joined: 09 Apr 09
I guess the moral of the story could just be "don't lie and scam people in buying your stuff"..

I don't see anything wrong with acting against fake reviews personally. There's too much fake stuff going on already in my opinion in the online marketing. Most people don't seem to care how they sell their stuff. It's what keeps bothering me when trying to choose a niche.
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For a sceptical view on things:
Posts: 14
Joined: 24 Jun 09
Thanks, Xenopus. Sounds reasonable! I also figure if I'm selling good products that people are happy with then it shouldn't be too big a deal, but thought I'd check with Affilorama gang just in case.
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Posts: 752
Joined: 08 Feb 09
it will be interesting to see how the FTC plan to regulate this - regulating the internet is always a mammoth task whichever way you look at it. you almost need to create some sort of 'self-regulating' system.

i think what they should be doing is educating people on how to stay safe (and keep their money safe) on the internet, e.g. learning how to spot fake reviews etc

chris (from Affilorama) wrote an interesting blog post on this subject
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Posts: 24
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For 90% of affiliates, I think this is good news, not bad news. The #1 obstacle to making a sale online (speaking as a consumer, not someone with vast experience on actually making sales... but looking to change that) is TRUST. All of these scammers erode trust.

I got scammed buying software on EBay. My new rule: I'll never buy software on EBay again. I did my due diligence - UK shipper, over 300 reviews, over 98% approval, Paypal guarantee, read the fine print (retail version, not OEM). When the software came, it was shipped from China on a handwritten DVD with a crack code and the Paypal guarantee was worth than useless (to make good on it, I had to return the item to China using tracking, which would have been $80).

Okay, that's a roundabout way of saying that one network of A├žai Berry Diet fake blogs claiming endorsements by Oprah and 60 Minutes took thousands of people out of the online fitness and weight loss market *forever*. They will never buy a weight loss product from you or me, no matter how great the product is and no matter what they endorsements are.

Then there's the issue that Jason raises - is this the right way to go about it? I don't know. I've seen how hard it is to educate people. I think you need to start there, but you need to really crack down too.

I think a lot of this would be solved by forcing people to have their terms and conditions displayed in a certain way.

When you signed up for Affiloblueprint, did you have any doubt whatsoever about what activity would happen on your credit card or Paypal account? It was 100% clear
- $197 to get started
- $47 per month after 30 days
- cancel at any time by going to Paypal and managing your subscriptions.

Most of these fake blog sites are for offers where you get a free trial, but you have to find a tiny link to the terms and conditions to learn that you will be billed $97/month, that this billing will start well before your "free trial" ends, that you will likely be unable to cancel before the first billing cycle, you can only cancel over the phone, and nobody actually answers that phone most of the time anyway.

Because of these deceptive practices, they were able to offer ridiculous payouts to affiliates - make $30-$50 for getting people to sign up for a "free" trial.

So... in my roundabout way, what I'm saying is that the FDA and FTC would be more effective if they cracked down on deceptive *billing* practices. That would bring affiliate payouts more in line with the true value of the offer, and that would cut down on *some* of this stuff.

I'm not naive enough to think that educating the public and policing the merchant, would get rid of all the scammy affiliates, but scammy merchants attract scammy affiliates, and top shelf merchants ban scammy affiliates.

And of course, there will always be those who prey on people's ignorance.
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http://RaisedByTurtles.org (just my blog)
http://YosemiteExplorer.com (where I live)
Posts: 869
Joined: 14 Mar 08
RickDeckard wrote:So... in my roundabout way, what I'm saying is that the FDA and FTC would be more effective if they cracked down on deceptive *billing* practices. That would bring affiliate payouts more in line with the true value of the offer, and that would cut down on *some* of this stuff.

Now that is what I call logical Rick.

But the FTC having you put a disclaimer under every link or every page is just ridiculous.
I actually don't mind having it on my TOS page etc.. but they could take this too far and hurt affiliates rather than protect.
It's a shame we honest marketers have to be affected by the dishonest ones who just want to make a quick buck.

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Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize
they were the big things.

-- Robert Brault
Posts: 3918
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my problem with it is the number of affiliates that dont fall under the ftc jurisdiction. with the internet being a global system, the people in other countries do not have to follow these guidlines, and can continue to scam people and cause trouble for those of us trying to do it right
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Posts: 8
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Well, if noone does anything I guess it will only get worse. So score one for the little guys! Charlie
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