As reported on the Hunton Andrews Kurth Privacy & Information Security Law Blog last week, on October 21, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission took action against two companies alleged to have engaged in the business of false online reviews and social media influence. In the first case, the FTC entered into a consent decree with cosmetics marketer Sunday Riley, LLC, and the company’s owner, who sell products at Sephora stores and online at According to the FTC’s complaint, disguised as ordinary consumers, Sunday Riley employees and Ms. Riley herself posted fake 5-star reviews of the company’s products on Sephora’s website. Under the terms of the FTC’s agreement, the company and its principal are barred from posting fake reviews, must clearly identify endorsers, and must instruct staff on their disclosure obligations. The FTC vote on the action was 3-2, with Commissioners Chopra and Slaughter dissenting on the grounds that the settlement did not include a monetary payment or an admission of guilt.

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