WASHINGTON, D.C. – If you or your company operates any of the countless online adult platforms that generate revenue through digital advertising, you now have a chance to give the Federal Trade Commission a piece of your mind – in a good, constructive way, that is.
Acknowledging that there appears to be confusion on the Commission’s current guidelines on “preventing digital deception” in online advertising and asserting that “some companies are wrongly citing the guides to justify practices that mislead consumers online,” the FTC has decided its time to freshen up their guidance documents, starting with a public comment period.
Part of the impetus for the public comment period and update of the guidelines stems from what the FTC sees as improper interpretations of their guidelines being employed to hoodwink consumers, the Commission indicated in announcing the public comment period.
“We know that some companies are wrongly citing our current guides to justify dark patterns and other forms of digital deception,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are looking to update the guides to make clear that online tricks and traps will not be tolerated, and we look forward to hearing from the public on this initiative.”
In its announcement, the FTC added that its staff is “seeking public input to ensure the guides are helping honest businesses treat consumers fairly, rather than being used as a shield by firms looking to deceive.”
“In seeking public comment on possible revisions, staff is interested in the technical and legal issues that consumers, the FTC’s law enforcement partners, and others believe should be addressed,” the Commission added in its statement.
While the Commission emphasized its desire for consumer feedback, those who operate digital advertising networks, along with those who purchase traffic from or sell it to those networks, obviously have a stake in this conversation, as well.
In its announcement, the FTC said the issues on which it is seeking comment include:
– the use of sponsored and promoted advertising on social media
– advertising embedded in games and virtual reality and microtargeted advertisements
– the ubiquitous use of dark patterns, manipulative user interface designs used on websites and mobile apps, and in digital advertising that pose unique risks to consumers
– whether the current guidance adequately addresses advertising on mobile devices
– whether additional guidance is needed to reflect the multi-party selling arrangements involved in online commerce and affiliate marketing arrangements
– how the guidance on the use of hyperlinks can be strengthened to better protect consumers; and
– the adequacy of online disclosures when consumers must navigate multiple webpages
The public comment period began on June 2 and runs through August 2. Information on how to submit comments is available on Regulations.gov.