FTC shuts down obviously fake acne-treating smartphone apps

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On the one hand, the companies who falsely claimed their smartphone apps could treat acne with a sequence of red and blue lights are slimy and immoral. On the other… the people who actually paid money for these apps really should have known better. Your iPhone can do many things — it can play music, it can access the internet, it can get you casual sex — but it cannot cure your acne using lights. (Mine is barely functional as a flashlight.) And the FTC decided that making up lies about the effectiveness of such apps is kind of illegal!

There were nearly 15,000 downloads of the two apps. Marketers agreed to “stop making baseless claims” in order to settle an FTC complaint, the first the agency has brought targeting health claims by mobile apps.

One of the apps, AcnePwner, sold for 99 cents on Android Marketplace. Ads promised it would “Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!"

Pro tip, everyone: when an ad has phrases like "simple, yet powerful tool" or "one easy trick they don't want you to know" or "ancient secret," that ad is a lie. (Especially if it's that last one and the ad is for a smartphone app. I bet ancient people's cell phones didn't even have, like, cameras, let alone an app store.) Please, save your money for Angry Birds Seasons. Just as effective at curing your skin problems, but with 100% more evil pigs!