The Federal Trade Commission said Reverb Communications, a PR agency that works with video game developers and was charged with planting positive reviews of client products, must take down related comments still found online.
A year ago, MobileCrunch obtained a memo that had allegedly been written by the agency, which reportedly said Reverb's strategy was to use interns to write influential game reviews and monitor online community boards and message boards.
The FTC said in a report issued August 26 that employees at Reverb engaged in deceptive advertising practices, by "having employees pose as ordinary consumers posting game reviews at the online iTunes store, and not disclosing that the reviews came from paid employees working on behalf of the developers."
The federal agency also said that, while it will handle related decisions on a case-by-case basis, an online post made by a person connected to a seller or receiving cash or payment should be disclosed. It is accepting public comment on the agreement until September 24.
Doug Kennedy, VP of business development at Reverb, e-mailed a statement to PRWeek on August 27, saying: "During discussions with the FTC, it became apparent that we would never agree on the facts of the situation. Rather than continuing to spend time and money arguing, and laying off employees to fight what we believed was a frivolous matter, we settled this case and ended the discussion."
The statement also said that the employee reviews were not mandated by Reverb but were done independently.