Washington – Reverb Communications, a public relations firm
that serves video game companies, has settled charges from the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) that it posted phony reviews for its clients’ products on
Apples iTunes Store.
The FTC said that Twain Harte, Calif.-based Reverb and
owner Tracie Snitker posted reviews for clients’ mobile games available on
Apple’s App Store, giving the impression they came from independent consumers
while failing to disclose the authors’ connection with the game developers.
"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," said Mary Engle, director of the FTC’s division
of advertising practices.
Reverb does not admit guilt in the proposed settlement,
under which it agreed to stop posting iTunes reviews for clients’ products that
do not disclose a connection to the agency.
Reverb’s Snitker told CNET News.com
that the reviews in question were posted by Reverb employees who had used their
own money to purchase clients’ games on their own iPhones.