"Liking" a company on social media -- or posting a photo of one of its products to Pinterest -- can be an endorsement, the Federal Trade Commission said today in new guidance about online endorsements. "Simply posting a picture of a product in social media, such as on Pinterest, or a video of you using it could convey that you like and approve of the product. If it does, it's an endorsement," the FTC says in a new update to its endorsement guides.
Consumer advocacy groups, along with Cogent and Dish, recently urged the Federal Communications Commission to require AT&T to follow the new net neutrality rules for seven years -- even if they are struck down in court -- as a condition of any merger with DirecTV. This week, AT&T opposed that request. Instead, AT&T says it's willing to follow the 2010 neutrality rules -- which are weaker than the current ones -- for three years after the merger closes.
In a blow to Yahoo, a federal judge has ruled that the company must face a class-action lawsuit for allegedly intercepting email messages in order to surround them with ads. Yahoo's terms of service provide that the company analyzes email in order to display ads, but the people who are suing didn't have Yahoo email accounts, and say they never agreed to the company's practice.
Advertisers, agencies and publishers serve the AdChoices icon more than 1 trillion times each month. Yet despite the icon's presence throughout the Web, fewer than one in 10 Internet users know what the small blue symbol in the shape of a sideways triangle actually means, according to the latest State of Media report by the agency Kelly Scott Madison.
AT&T, CenturyLink and a coalition of trade groups recently asked a federal appellate court to stay a portion of the Federal Communications Commission's historic decision to impose net neutrality rules. The FCC and Justice Department are opposing that request, arguing that a stay will "harm consumers, leaving unprotected their ability to access Internet content, applications, and services of their choosing."
Broadband providers might want to draw on data about subscribers' Web activity in order to serve them targeted ads, but the Federal Communications Commission is reminding carriers to proceed with caution. "Absent privacy protections, a broadband provider's use of personal and proprietary information could be at odds with its customers' interests," the FCC's enforcement bureau said in guidance issued this week.
Many Americans doubt that data about their Web activity will be kept private by online ad companies, social video sites and other Web service providers. That's according to the Pew Research Center, which today issued its latest installment in a series exploring attitudes toward privacy. More than three out of four adults (76%) said they lack confidence that Web-surfing data held by online advertisers will remain private. Nearly the same proportion (69%) say they're not confident that records held by social media services will remain private, while 66% aren't sure that records of their search-engine activity will remain confidential.
For the third time in three years, Comcast and CenturyLink have taken a battle about ads for broadband service to the Better Business Bureau's self-regulatory unit National Advertising Division. The companies are fighting about whether ads accurately convey the price of broadband, and whether they accurately inform consumers about the quality and speed of service. Today -- as in 2013 -- the National Advertising Division largely sided with CenturyLink. Last year, Comcast won a round in the feud.
In a major decision about free speech online, a federal appellate court has ruled that actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who says she was duped into appearing in the incendiary film "Innocence of Muslims," can't force Google to take down the clip. "The takedown order was unwarranted and incorrect as a matter of law," Circuit Judge Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote today in a 10-1 decision. "The mandatory injunction censored and suppressed a politically significant film."
North Carolina has joined Tennessee in suing the FCC for vacating state restrictions on broadband networks. "Despite recognition that the State of North Carolina creates and retains control over municipal governments, the FCC unlawfully inserted itself between the state and the state's political subdivisions," Attorney General Roy Cooper says in papers filed with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.