Legal Matters: Personal Review Website Under FTC Investigation

review website law may be facing FTC censure.

Review Websites Are An Internet Staple

RipOffReport, Yelp and other niche market review sites are Internet staples. And while review websites can sometimes present a problem for businesses, they can also serve as great advertising tool. Sure, a surly customer could sully your reputation for a stint, but more often than not, happy customers share glowing testimonials, which helps boost business.

A New Type Of Online Review Site (It’s Now Getting Personal)

At around the time social media started to take hold, a new type of “review site” grew in popularity. People got bored with rating products and services. So, they gravitated to new types of review sites – ones where users “reviewed” each other. In fact, if you believe Aaron Sorkin’s Facebook creation myth, a crude version of a “Hot or Not” site was the genesis of Zuckerburg’s now ubiquitous online hangout. 101 is one of the more popular “personal review websites” around. It features user-generated content and ranking functionalities. Some believe the platform also features questionable “automated content.”’s rules about who can post a profile are, shall we say, less than strict. As such, it’s easy for users to create unflattering pages about their least favorite people.

In their nascent days, loved free speech so much that, according to Gene Quinn, the company allegedly refused to remove material about a 10-year-old target. In fact, again according to Quinn, in the past, was extremely reluctant to remove any material.

But like Internet laws, has evolved. Most notably, the social media site says they now adhere to DMCA takedown procedures. Moreover, “Remove” is the second item on their website menu – which, if clicked, takes you to a pay for removal portal of which Al Capone would be proud. Lawsuits & Detractors

As you’d imagine, since its inception, has had its fair share of detractors. But what recently caught officials’ attention were allegations that Jerk, LLC wasn’t following COPPA regulations. COPPA – The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – is a strict law that aims to safeguard the personally identifiable information of all citizens aged 13 and under. COPPA violation fees are steep and the FTC is always on the hunt for violators.

After the FTC investigation was underway, material surfaced which raised the question: was COPPA the only issue of concern, or did’s profile generation methods also skirt the law?

This April, the FTC denied Jerk, LLC’s motion to quash a civil investigative demand which focused on the company’s site, As a result, the FTC will continue to investigate the website’s content generation methods as they relate to the PII of minors and profile creation.

Are you dealing with an online defamation issue? A COPPA issue? If yes, get in touch. Kelly Warner is a full service defamation and Internet law legal practice. We’ve helped many others and can do the same for you.

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