My Political Opinions

Wake Up America

FTC Looks Other Way About Lying In Campaign Ads

May 19th, 2010

It’s only the primaries in a mid-term election year and already we see the negative campaign ads dominating the TV.

I predict this will get nothing but ugly as we move into the actual mid-term elections, and I don’t even want to thing about 2012.

The point I want to make in this post is where is the FTC?  They now have a big push on to regulate bloggers, that says we can not recommend a product that we might make a commission on, without notifying the public that we will make money if they purcase the product.

I’m not saying that is a bad law, but why are they worried about my blog that maybe 100 people will see and only 2 might buy something, when compared to influencing the minds of millions of people that are going to vote for the people that run this Country.

What about these campaign ads, where the right wing organization says one thing and the left wing organization say the complete opposite about the same issue.  It doesn’t take a Harvard Lawyer to see that they both can’t be true and probably they are both being at the very least deceptive.

Where is the FTC and the truth in advertising rules?

Take a look at what the FTC website has to say about truth in advertising… the following are quotes from this page on the FTC website

What truth-in-advertising rules apply to advertisers?

Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair.

Additional laws apply to ads for specialized products like consumer leases, credit, 900 telephone numbers, and products sold through mail order or telephone sales. And every state has consumer protection laws that govern ads running in that state.

What makes an advertisement deceptive?

According to the FTC’s Deception Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a statement – or omits information – that:

  • Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
  • Is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product.

What makes an advertisement unfair?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Act and the FTC’s Unfairness Policy Statement, an ad or business practice is unfair if:

  • it causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury which a consumer could not reasonably avoid; and
  • it is not outweighed by the benefit to consumers.

How does the FTC determine if an ad is deceptive?

A typical inquiry follows these steps:

  • The FTC looks at the ad from the point of view of the “reasonable consumer” – the typical person looking at the ad. Rather than focusing on certain words, the FTC looks at the ad in context – words, phrases, and pictures – to determine what it conveys to consumers.
  • The FTC looks at both “express” and “implied” claims. An express claim is literally made in the ad. For example, “ABC Mouthwash prevents colds” is an express claim that the product will prevent colds. An implied claim is one made indirectly or by inference. “ABC Mouthwash kills the germs that cause colds” contains an implied claim that the product will prevent colds. Although the ad doesn’t literally say that the product prevents colds, it would be reasonable for a consumer to conclude from the statement “kills the germs that cause colds” that the product will prevent colds. Under the law, advertisers must have proof to back up express and implied claims that consumers take from an ad.
  • The FTC looks at what the ad does not say – that is, if the failure to include information leaves consumers with a misimpression about the product. For example, if a company advertised a collection of books, the ad would be deceptive if it did not disclose that consumers actually would receive abridged versions of the books.
  • The FTC looks at whether the claim would be “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product. Examples of material claims are representations about a product’s performance, features, safety, price, or effectiveness.

So why is the FTC so concerned with consumers protection, and seem to care less about our National protection?

We have a right as Americans to vote for any candidate we want for public office, but we should be voting based on facts, not bogus advertisements.

I know… these laws are put in place to protect the consumers, but are we not all consumers of the American way of life?  Should we not be protected from special interest groups with unlimited budgets that will say anything to get a vote?

If there is no laws to force them into removing ads that are less than true, then that means the group with the most money that hires the best advertising agency wins the election… is that how we want to pick who runs our Country?

This problem has even been made worst by resent rulings by the US Supreme Court on how much money companies and organizations can donate to candidates… this will be a subject of another post.

So what do I want to see happen?

I want the voters on the right and the left to become outraged about these negative ads, and start to complain to the FTC… we need to demand that they pull these ads if they don’t comply to “truth-in-advertising rules”

How we do this is yet another post for another day.

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1 Comment »

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    Comment by John — January 5, 2012 @ 2:07 am

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