You've all seen them. An ad with an obviously photoshopped headline reading, "Mom develops miracle weight loss cure!" or "Reporter loses weight on Acai Berry diet!" or something similar. These fake 'news ads' are easy to spot for anyone with a modicum of Internet experience. But they must be sucking someone in because, day after day, the ads get more prominent.
For a while, this trash seemed an inevitable consequence to the Internet's nature. But the FTC doesn't feel the same way. And they're about to take a stand against faux-news ads. The Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General have fired off eleven lawsuits targeted at the makers of these infuriating interstitals. Targeted by these suits are the marketers of Acai Berry products.
"We're alleging that nearly everything about the defendants' websites is false and deceptive" said deputy director Charles Harwood of the FTC.
If "false and deceptive" is the standard required to justify a legal banhamer, Mr. Harwood must have a huge docket in front of him. Every faux-news ad doesn't lead back to Acai Berry. Take this ad, which promises a ridiculous windfall thanks to 'posting links' on Google:
Or this imitation article, which uses both Fox and ABC's logo, advertising some sort of online storefront.
So far, the FTC hasn't mentioned their intent to go after any other websites. This move against Acai Berry marketers may just be the first step in a larger assault on a terrible trend. Or it may be yet another example of the FTC focusing too much effort and money on one small chunk of a much larger problem. Either way, I'm hoping for a purge.