Originally Posted by patteeu
I don't know when or if it's ever illegal, but it makes more sense in the case of someone trying to manipulate stock prices than it does in a political context. I'm skeptical that there are any laws against it in anything other than very narrow areas, if at all.
You could be right it doesn't apply to politics but I guess it would depend on how and who pays them. Either way, shill marketing exists and whether they are manipulating a product, stock, or just people, it is wrong.
The FTC's Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements defines an "endorsement" as any advertising message that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser. (The FTC intends to treat endorsements and testimonials the same.) Endorsements must reflect the honest experience or opinion of the endorser, and may not contain representations that would be deceptive, or could not be substantiated, if the advertiser made them directly. Any material connection between a person endorsing a product and the company selling the product must be fully disclosed. A "material connection" is defined as a relationship that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (e.g., an employment relationship)