A US public relations agency has settled a case in which it was accused of posting fake reviews for software on the iTunes store.
Under the proposed settlement, Reverb Communications would remove any endorsements that "misrepresent the authors as... ordinary consumers" and that didn't disclose the relationship between Reverb and the games developer.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had alleged that Reverb and its sole owner, Tracie Snitker, posted the reviews about clients' games between November 2008 and May 2009.
The posts were made using account names "that gave readers the impression the reviews were written by disinterested consumers", according to the FTC complaint.
"Reverb and Snitker did not disclose that they were hired to promote the games and that they often received a percentage of the sales," the complaint alleged.
"These facts would have been relevant to consumers who were evaluating the endorsement and deciding whether to buy the gaming applications."
FTC advertising practices division director Mary Engle said online marketers had to "abide by long-held principles of truth in advertising".
"Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers," she said.
An article by the New York Times reported that Snitker had settled "rather than continuing to spend time and money arguing, and laying off employees to fight what we believed was a frivolous matter".
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