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Warner Bros to disclose paid reviews after FTC probe

The US-based Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Warner Bros have reached a settlement with the latter agreeing to provide disclosures when reviewers are paid to promote its products. The FTC had accused Warner Bros of deceiving consumers by failing to disclose that the company had paid reviewers for positive reviews when marketing its 2014 game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The entire terms of the settlement are unclear. The FTC does not specifically name reviewers or review website other than popular YouTuber PewDiePie who was allegedly paid “thousands of dollars” for his review of the game. Note that the FTC issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” (sic) that the law has been or is being violated, and it is proceeding in the public interest. The agency has pretty damning evidence too; Warner Bros required reviewers to ‘promote positive sentiment’ about the game, show viewers how and where to register/buy the game and not show any in-game bugs or glitches. Additionally, Warner Bros required reviewers to place disclosures in the description box appearing below the video, which, according to the agency, were unlikely to be visible to most customers.  The FTC has pretty specific rules (pdf) with regards to advertising disclosures. Essentially Warner Bros tried to pass off its marketing campaign as legitimate objective reviews of the game, which the FTC rightfully called out. ASA ruling: Back in 2014, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told video bloggers (basically YouTube content creators), that they were breaking the…

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