Selective editing of reviews: illegal or not? AHPRA draws the line

illegal testimonials AHPRAIn light of a recent incident where an organisation was publishing only positive reviews from consumers, AHPRA has published further guidance for advertisers of regulated health services to clarify which review or testimonial editing practices are deemed illegal.

AHPRA stressed on the importance of advertisers being responsible of their advertising obligations in accordance with the law. The have said that editing reviews or testimonials to be false and misleading is unlawful.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said “If advertisers edit reviews or testimonials there is a high risk that the edited reviews will become misleading or deceptive. Only publishing complete and unedited reviews that are not testimonials will help advertisers to avoid breaching the National Law.”

The following practices considered misleading are:

  • editing a review that is negative to make it positive, as this falsely presents the feedback
  • editing a review that has a mix of negative and positive comments so that the published review only has positive comments, as this falsely implies that the reviewer only had positive feedback, or
  • editing a review so that it no longer accurately reflects all the reviewer’s feedback and presents an inaccurate or false impression of the reviewer’s views.

Aside from the guidelines set forth by AHPRA, the organisation together with the National Boards also released a testimonial tool that will help determine what reviews can and can’t be published.

Martin Fletcher added, “Reviews that don’t refer to the clinical aspects of care are not considered testimonials and, therefore, may be allowed. But even if the review doesn’t breach the ban on using testimonials to advertise, the advertiser may be breaking the law on misleading and deceptive advertising if the review is misleading because it has been edited or does not reflect all the feedback received. Given the significant potential for consumers to be misled, we will consider strong enforcement action where advertisers don’t meet their obligations.”

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