Feeds

New York nips facelift firm for astroturfing

But they're still grinning...

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A facelift firm is being slapped with a $300,000 fine by New York state for flooding the internet with fake positive reviews about itself.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the case is believed to be the first in the US to punish so-called "astroturf" marketing.

Under a settlement deal announced Tuesday, the cosmetic surgery outfit Lifestyle Lift agreed to cut out publishing anonymous positive reviews about the company on internet message boards and websites and pay the state $300,000 in penalties.

Lifestyle Lift, which mostly targets consumers though infomercials as a "minor one-hour" facial firming procedure, has a history of aggressively guarding its reputation online. The company has filed several lawsuits alleging trademark violations against websites that publish negative reviews or comments about the company.

Cuomo's office alleges Lifestyle Lift's president decided negative internet postings were causing a significant loss of face and ordered his employees to pose as satisfied customers on various internet message boards and websites. Internal emails discovered in the investigation show specific marching orders to engage in the illegal activity:

"Friday is going to be a slow day - I need you to devote the day to doing more postings on the web as a satisfied client," one email to employees read.

"Put your wig and skirt on and tell them about the great experience you had," stated another.

Lifestyle Lift also created stand-alone websites and blogs made to appear as if they were created by independent, satisfied customers.

"I decided to create this website because I wanted to share my story with others," one such website stated. "After my first consultation, I went online and read horror stories about Lifestyle Lift. People were trashing Lifestyle Lift, their employees, their doctors, etc...I got scared and seriously thought about canceling my procedure. I was getting cold feet. What was with all the negative posts online? Those negative stories did not ad up at at...

"I realized quickly that most of that stuff was probably made up: the reviews were using long medical terms that only a doctor would use..." it continued. "I also talked to my doctor about it.... He told me that many of the negative stories I was reading online were probably from envious doctors and just made up because he never heard any of this from his patients."

According to the settlement, Lifestyle Lift employees will no longer pose as customers on the internet. The company also agreed not to promote its services without disclosing they are responsible for the content. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.