Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC
FTC Seeks Input for Revising Its Guidance to Businesses About Online Advertising, FTC Matter No. P114506
The FTC must eliminate deceptive and misleading social media advertising. For example, there is an online lawyer directory that is misleading consumers into believing that some lawyers are participating on this platform when they are not. For example, this online lawyer directory utilizes head shots (that are uploaded without permission from a law firm's website) of some lawyers and then makes up the lawyer's practice profile (ex: 34% Fraud, 33% Medical Malpractice, 33% litigation) to provide the impression that the listed lawyer is actively participating on the online lawyer directory. Utilizing the image and likeness of attorneys without their permission creates the false impression that they are actively participating and thus endorsing the online lawyer directory. This lawyer directory is disseminating advertisements by creating a false impression to the public that some attorneys have a certain practice profile percentage when they do not. These deceptive profiles are misleading the public into believing that this online lawyer directory is utilized and endorsed by lawyers who have nothing to do with the online lawyer directory. There are some websites that are misappropriating the image, likeness, and trademarks of professional athletes and celebrities to provide the false impression that they endorse a particular online website and/or brand. Websites and/or brands that utilize the content of professional athletes and celebrities without permission are not only violating copyright and/or trademark law and/or right of publicity laws they are also violating 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Consumers may falsely believe that a particular website and/or brand that is utilizing the image, likeness, and or content of a professional athlete or celebrity without authorization has a relationship with that professional athlete or celebrity. These activities are analogous to creating fake and/or misleading and deceptive online reviews of a company’s product and/or service. The FTC must take corrective action to stop these deceptive and misleading activities before they cause further harm to consumers and the social media and advertising industries.