And it’s about time. According to an article in today’s Tribune, FTC targets bogus online 'news' sites, a website I wrote about over a year ago as being fake and fraudulent [A City Mom: If life is a bowl of acai berries, why am I doing crunches on the floor?] has not only finally been shut down, in all of its incarnations, but the companies involved have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines.
I became suspicious fairly quickly after landing on the fake news website, but apparently a lot of people were fooled out of parting with their money. According to the Tribune article:
"Consumers really were hoodwinked," said FTC attorney Steven Wernikoff, who led the investigations of the FTC's fake news cases.
Apparently those consumers were hoodwinked out of a lot of money. One of the defendants in the case has been told to turn over close to $359 million dollars!
While caveat emptor was part of the point I wanted to make when writing my blog about the bogus diet sites last year, my larger point, and fear, was the onslaught of these bogus news sites. Information is power. Our country was built on the idea of the press watching the government: the press as the Fourth Estate. And advertisers trying to pass themselves off as journalists should worry all of us.
I don’t know why it took the FTC so long to shut down these bogus news sites, and even though I’m not a ‘real’ journalist anymore (although I play one, sometimes, on ChicagoNow) it just goes to show you, you should have listened to your City Mom.
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