Lifestyle Lift Slammed for Deceptive and Illegal Posting by NY AG -- And How RealSelf Protects Our Community
Will-Lee on 14 Jul 2009 at 1:34pm
Earlier today, the New York state Attorney General announced it fined Lifestyle Lift, the "facial-firming" mini-lift company, $300,000 for posting fake consumer reviews on the Internet.
Lifestyle Lift is actively discussed on RealSelf, with one million visits made to RealSelf.com content related to the treatment in the past year by both previous patients and those considering the plastic surgery procedure. With over 180 reviews of LifeStyle Lift, 36% of past patients felt the procedure was worth it.
The Attorney General accused Lifestyle Lift of tricking consumers "into believing that satisfied customers were posting their own stories" about the product. This deception, said the AG, constituted "deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and illegal conduct" under New York and federal laws.
The news out of New York today is thought to be the first case in the US combating "astroturfing" -- the practice of employees of a company posing on the Internet as unaffiliated or independent consumers to praise a product or attack detractors. In media reports, Lifestyle Lift did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
How RealSelf protects our community
Today's news brings up an issue RealSelf.com takes very seriously -- inauthentic or fraudulent postings to the site. We take great pride in the content our community provides, and strongly believe that our community members benefit tremendously by having access to detailed information on cosmetic treatments. With this in mind, it is imperative that all the information on RealSelf.com is trustworthy.
To ensure this is the case, should we detect or suspect a fake posting, though rare, we remove the content immediately and investigate the issue further. If we do discover this type of activity taking place, we ban the community member from participating, and take any additional action necessary to insure the issue does not come up again.
We also don’t wait for the community to flag suspected fake posts. Although this is a valuable way for us to become aware of this type of behavior, we also monitor all cosmetic treatment reviews and use various techniques that look for patterns, including but not limited to IP address reverse lookups, that suggest materials written by a company representative.
We maintain a zero-tolerance policy against attempts to manipulate the ratings of cosmetic procedures.