Trusting Your Sources

You read the news to get the facts. But what happens when that “newsy” site isn’t news at all?

A company that used fake news sites to push acai berry supplements and other weight loss products has agreed to settle FTC charges. The agency has already stopped others that used wannabe news sites and phony testimonials from supposed reporters to push their products. The M.O. is to make people think the site — and the reporters — are part of legitimate and trusted news organizations, name-dropping CNN and Consumer Reports, among others, to add credibility. But the fact is the sites were ads, masquerading as news.

So how do you know you can trust your source? You might be on a fake site if:

  • The site displays the logo of a legitimate major television network, newspaper, or magazine, followed by a "reporter's" first-hand experience using the product
  • The reporter claims a dramatic weight loss — like 25 lbs over several weeks — with little or no change in diet or exercise
  • Throughout the site, you see links to other websites where you can buy the "weight loss" products or sign up for a "free" trial
  • You see testimonials or comments from supposedly satisfied customers on the site

For more on spotting a fake, read Fake News Sites Promote Acai Supplements. And before you get caught in a “free” acai trial trap, also check out the FTC’s Free Trial Offers video.

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