This post builds from a previous post on certifications, titled Credibility Through Certification – UL Standards & Selfie Certifications. That post sought to address the use of UL certifications. This post takes a closer look at how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on those companies dubbing their products (and services) as leaders in the field without any third-party agency verification.

So what is a selfie certification? In short, and based on recently filed FTC complaints, a selfie certification is (1) a representation (sometimes in the form of a seal or stamp) that a company uses to promote a product or service (2) whereby the consumer is led to believe that the certification has been verified when, in fact, the certification has not been verified or where the company has failed to disclose that the certification was the company’s own self-serving designation. The FTC complaint—targeting Moonlight Slumber, LLC’s seal below—provides one example (here). Another example, exercised by NextGen Nutritionals, LLC was even more intricate. There, the seals directed consumers to a link where the consumer would then be taken to a website representing that the site in question was “Verified to be Ethical & Trustworthy” (here). Yet the site was not ethical. In fact, the site was owned by NextGen Nutritionals, LLC—seeking to imbue its products with credibility through false, unsubstantiated third-party verification.

What’s the take-away from all this? Well, that’s straight forward: don’t engage in selfies. But also be on the look-out for competitors—particularly new ones coming into established markets seeking to get a quick consumer to response to advertising through third-party certification. Calling those companies out for taking a poor selfie on their products may be the only way to prevent them from funneling sales away from your own. This concern is only amplified by the ubiquitous nature of digital advertising that seeks out the six-second subliminal attention span.

Moonlight Slumber, LLC’s “Green Safety Shield” NextGen Nutritionals, LLC Certified Ethical Site