Legality of Posting Online Reviews of Products
Provided by HG.org
Posting online reviews for products or to inform consumers about the website is a legal gray area in general. However, if these reviews are from the company, family or friends of the business or fake, this is considered a violation per the Federal Trade Commission.
When a company has been caught posting reviews about its own products, if loved ones of the business comment or review products or if someone is hired to draft a review about the website or product the business creates, these could be violations of the FTC guidelines with what is produced by a company. It is possible the owner could be facing a complaint filed by a marketer, a competitor or someone else various activities are screened in such a manner. It is vital to keep within the confines of the regulations the FTC have put forth for competitive and reasonable marketing and selling of consumables or other products. This means fair and real reviews not controlled by the company.
The important aspect of these online reviews is understanding what a violation of FTC guidelines is and what is permitted. This means that the owner of the company must know and understand all areas of these laws so he or she may avoid violations and noncompliance. It is possible that if and offense does occur that the manager or owner could face fines, jail or prison terms and serious negative consequences to the company. There are other elements that must be adhered to as well such as avoiding baseless claims about products and advertising certain activities or actions being possible through the use of the consumable or item.
Signing Away Rights
There is a clause incorporated through the FTC where customers of a company’s products sign away their rights to provide any online reviews after making certain purchases of the items. While this was not common before new regulations were put in place, it has become commonplace since then. This is one way to suppress negative reviews posted about the business’ consumables and products manufactured. However, there are many anonymous reviews placed online that could reflect positively on the company where someone has been paid to complete. While this is not legal since certain laws have been passed, some organizations may get away with it if not caught.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to reveal which of these reviews are real and which are fake. Some have truth contained and others are entirely false with information that is not even about the product itself. Some have been purchased by the company, and others are created by employees to shed a positive or negative light on the business practices of the industry. It is possible that an organization may have workers logging into the location online to remove negative feedback and only permitting customers and others to see the positive reviews. This could be another tactic to cover up various problems with product usage and issues not known to the public.
The Gray Area
The legality that governs online reviews and purchasing of products is not entirely clear. While it is illegal to purchase a review from another person, it may not be a violation of the law to provide free items to someone in the hopes he or she may post something positive. It is an offense to have family and friends write reviews about the services or consumables of a company, but associates that are not connected to the person or company may be permitted to do so in a positive manner. This means there are ways around the illegal acts that could be committed. It is important to know what is considered a violation so that it may be avoided.
The Business Lawyer
Ecommerce websites often have locations to put reviews, comments and replies to information. This could be linked or separate from other sites online that review companies or the products they sell. When customers are the ones that place these items for views to the public, it is usually completely valid and legal. However, there are spammers and bots that may be used to provide negative information and shy business away from a company. It is for this and to avoid FTC violations that a business lawyer versed in ecommerce should be hired. This professional in the legal world has an understanding of how to avoid potential disaster with the FTC and other laws that govern the commercial enterprises with online support and sales with customers and clients.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.