Fake Reviews Of iTunes Damages The Business

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The update was necessary to bring advertising standards into the digital age, as the practice of posting false reviews - or "astroturfing" - remains largely unpoliced on the web.

Under the settlement, the California firm, Reverb Communications, and one of its executives, Tracie Snitker, agreed to remove all of the iTunes reviews that appeared to be written by ordinary people. The settlement also bars Reverb and Ms. Snitker from making similar endorsements of any product or service without disclosing any relevant connections. The settlement did not involve any monetary penalties.

sites now offer the fake iTunes gift cards. None of them are selling the physical card that consumers get when you purchase it at brick-and-mortar Apple stores
or, more conveniently, via the company's online store.

“We hope that this case will show advertisers that they have to be transparent in their practices and help guide other ad agencies,” said Stacey Ferguson, a lawyer in the advertising practices division of the trade commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.


  1. Reverb Statement:
    During discussions with the FTC, it became apparent that we would never agree on the facts of the situation. Rather than continuing to spend time and money arguing, and laying off employees to fight what we believed was a frivolous matter, we settled this case and ended the discussion because as the FTC states: 'The consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission by the respondents of a law violation.'

    This issue was specific to a handful of small, independently developed iPhone apps that several team members downloaded onto their personal iPhones in their own time using their own money and accounts, a right and privilege afforded to every iPhone and iTouch user. Any iTunes user will understand that each time a product is purchased you are allowed to post one comment per product. Seven out of our 16 employees purchased games which Reverb had been working on and to this the FTC dedicated an investigation. These posts were neither mandated by Reverb nor connected to our policies. Bottom line, these allegations are old, this situation was settled awhile ago and had nothing to do with the clients that many outlets have been reporting. The FTC has continuously made statements that the reviews are “fake reviews” something we question; if a person plays the game and posts one review based on their own opinion about the game should that be constituted as “fake?” The FTC should evaluate if personal posts by these employees justifies this type of time, money and investigation. It’s become apparent to Reverb that this disagreement with the FTC is being used to communicate their new posting policy. We stand by the statement from the FTC that: 'The consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission by the respondents of a law violation.'


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