Firms are being warned by US regulators about fake online reviews.
Hundreds of corporations, including Amazon and Google, have been told not to use fake customer reviews, according to US regulators, signaling a crackdown on false endorsements that have flourished online.
The Federal Trade Commission has issued warning letters to over 700 businesses, threatening them with fines if they breach review standards.
A whole industry has sprung up to assist businesses improve their internet reputations, including some services that use phony reviews or other unethical methods to have negative reviews erased.
“The rise of social media has blurred the distinction between genuine material and advertising, resulting in an explosion of misleading endorsements,” the federal agency said in a statement released Wednesday.
The FTC stated that it targeted large corporations and advertisers, but that receiving one of the letters “in no way implies” wrongdoing.
According to the FTC, fines can reach $43,792 per infraction.
“Fake reviews and other deceptive endorsements defraud customers and undercut honest firms,” said Samuel Levine, director of the agency’s consumer protection bureau.
Coca-Cola, Mattel, Kellogg cereals, Airbnb, and the website Expedia were among the corporations who received a warning.