FTC cracks down on apps claiming to cure acne

Sep 12, 2011
Health

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with a pair of app developers who have made apps they claimed could help clear up acne. Give them points for originality, but neither app actually had any scientific evidence to back up that it might be helpful. The FTC contacted and then settled with both developers for a […]

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with a pair of app developers who have made apps they claimed could help clear up acne.

Give them points for originality, but neither app actually had any scientific evidence to back up that it might be helpful.

The FTC contacted and then settled with both developers for a pair of fines and agreements that neither will make apps that claim to help with acne problems in the future. In a press release, the FTC said it issued complaints against both developers claiming that the statements they made in the listings for their apps in the iTunes App Store and Google Android Market were false. The complaints aren’t actual rulings that the law has been broken, but rather state that the FTC believes a law may be broken by a company. That gives the companies a chance to settle, pay fines and come to an agreement with the FTC before further action is taken.

The release said that both apps, AcneApp in the App Store and Acne Pwner in the Android Market, claimed to work by shooting red and blue lights at the user’s face when he or she held the mobile device up to skin. Both also made claims in their app descriptions that the apps were effective and one actually said there was scientific data behind it. Here’s a quote from the FTC’s release:

Ads for Acne Pwner stated, ‘Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!’ The marketers of AcneApp claimed, ‘This app was developed by a dermatologist. A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%.’ There were approximately 11,600 downloads of AcneApp from the iTunes store, where it was sold for $1.99.

The release also stated that Acne Pwner pulled down 3,300 downloads in the Android Market at $0.99 apiece. That means AcneApp earned $23,084 (although Apple got a one-third cut of that, so it was more like $15,390) and Acne Pwner brought in about $3,270.

READ  Learn About Mental Health Issues With Mental Health Awareness for Mind, Mood, and Wellbeing Review

Obviously, the claims by both apps are unsubstantiated, even though AcneApp’s developers even falsely cited the British Journal of Dermatology study to back up its claims. The app’s developers, Koby Brown and Gregory W. Pearson, who did business as DermApps, were fined $14,294. Andrew N. Finkle, who did business as Acne Pwner, agreed to pay $1,700. Both are barred from making unsubstantiated scientific claims about the medical benefits of apps or devices.

That the two companies were fined for selling their apps is probably of little comfort to mobile device customers duped into buying these apps. The FTC release doesn’t mention Apple, which also would have profited from AcneApp and even approved the app’s release. It appears as though this is yet another app that made it through Apple’s app review process that probably shouldn’t have.

Search for more

Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

    Home Apps Games