FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges That Public Relations Firm Used Misleading Online Endorsements to Market Gaming Apps

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Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that Reverb Communications, Inc., and its owner, Tracie Snitker, engaged in deceptive advertising.  Reverb and Snitker had employees pose as ordinary consumers posting game reviews at the online iTunes store, and did not disclose that the reviews came from paid employees working on behalf of the developers, according to the FTC complaint.

The FTC Order requires Reverb and Snitker to remove any previously posted endorsements that misrepresent the authors as independent users or ordinary consumers, and that fail to disclose a connection between Reverb and Snitker, and the seller of a product or service.  The order also bars Reverb and Snitker from misrepresenting that the user or endorser is an independent, ordinary consumer, and from making endorsement or user claims about a product or service unless they disclose any relevant connections that they have with the seller or the product or service.   

The Commission vote approving the final order was 5-0.  (FTC File No. 0923199; the staff contact is Stacey Ferguson, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2361; see press release, complaint, and consent order dated August 26, 2010.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.  Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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