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What you need to know… Guidelines for online reviews & endorsements

The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (the ICPEN is an informal network of consumer protection law enforcement authorities representing 60 global economies) has released a set of guidelines for marketers and advertisers involved in the collection, moderation and publication of online reviews and endorsements.

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Global enforcers have found that online reviews and endorsements are proving useful to consumers when, for example, booking travel accommodation and other travel-related products and services. It is important that consumers can trust the reviews and endorsements they use to help make these buying decisions.

“Consumers rely upon online reviews when make purchasing decisions and it is crucial that reviews are honest and represent the full spectrum of views,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Compliance with these guidelines will build consumer confidence in online reviews, and help review platforms, traders and digital influencers avoid regulatory action.”

These three guidelines are to assist…

  1. Review Administrators;
  2. Traders and Marketing Professionals; and
  3. Digital Influencers (covering bloggers, vloggers, tweeters, and all other contributors to online publications).

These three guidelines have been developed by ICPEN members to help all consumers and businesses involved in online reviews and endorsements to act appropriately.

The key messages for stakeholders in each of the three guides are:

Review administrators need to:

  • be equal and fair in the collection of reviews,
  • be alert and proactive in the moderation of reviews, and
  • be transparent in the publication of reviews.

Advertisers and marketing professionals need to:

  • ensure they do not prevent consumers from seeing the whole picture of genuine, relevant and lawful reviews;
  • ensure they do not write, commission or publish fake reviews;
  • ensure paid-for content is disclosed; and
  • ensure other relevant commercial relationships are disclosed.

Digital influencers need to:

  • disclose, clearly and prominently, whether content has been paid for;
  • be open about other commercial relationships that might be relevant to the content; and
  • give genuine views on markets, businesses, goods or services.

These ICPEN guidelines provide general principles to follow but are not a substitute for professional legal advice and/or compliance with national laws.

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