web 2.0 ethics enforced by NYC Attorney General

2.0-largeThere are still people who doubt that Marketing accountability is a must. Golden rules for 2.0 including disclosure, transparency and openness are not ( repeat not) an option. For those people, here is the living proof that posting fake positive comments (a practice known as astroturfing) about one’s product on other people’s websites is a no-no:

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO SECURES SETTLEMENT WITH PLASTIC SURGERY FRANCHISE THAT FLOODED INTERNET WITH FALSE POSITIVE REVIEWS

Cuomo’s deal is first case in nation against growing practice of “astroturfing” on Internet

’Lifestyle Lift’ Will Pay $300,000 in Penalties and Costs to New York State

NEW YORK, N.Y. (July 14, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement with cosmetic surgery outfit Lifestyle Lift over the publishing of fake consumer reviews on the Internet.

Under the settlement, Lifestyle Lift will stop publishing anonymous positive reviews about the company to Internet message boards and other Web sites, and will pay $300,000 in penalties and costs to the State of New York. The case is believed to be the first in the nation aimed at combating “astroturfing,” a growing problem on the Internet.

Lifestyle Lift employees published positive reviews and comments about the company to trick Web-browsing consumers into believing that satisfied customers were posting their own stories. These tactics constitute deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and illegal conduct under New York and federal consumer protection law. The settlement marks a strike against the growing practice of “astroturfing,” in which employees pose as independent consumers to post positive reviews and commentary to Web sites and Internet message boards about their own company.