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Rulings: Australian Firm Fined for Facebook Testimonials

An Australian firm has been fined $7,500 for allowing misleading testimonials to lie on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Federal Court of Australia fined Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd (formerly known as Advanced Allergy Elimination) and its director, Mr Paul Keir, $7,500 each for contempt of undertakings made to the court.

In August 2009 Allergy Pathway and Mr Keir gave undertakings to the court following successful Australian Competition and Consumer Commission action for false, misleading and deceptive conduct.

Justice Finkelstein found that Allergy Pathway and Mr Keir made prohibited representations about Allergy Pathway’s purported allergy treatment on its website and on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in breach of those undertakings.

In August 2009, Allergy Pathway undertook not to represent that:

  • it can accurately test for and identify an allergen for a person and/or a substance which causes a person’s allergic reaction
  • it can cure or eliminate, or successfully treat, any allergies or any allergic reactions
  • its treatment for a person’s allergies or allergic reactions is safe and/or low risk, or
  • after its treatment of a person’s allergies or allergic reactions it is safe for that person to have contact with the allergen to which the person had an allergic reaction.

Justice Finkelstein said in judegment:

“While it cannot be said that Allergy Pathway was responsible for the initial publication of testimonials it is appropriate to conclude that Allergy Pathway accepted responsibility for the publications when it knew of them and decided not to remove them. Hence it became the publisher of the testimonials.”

The fine relates to undertakings made in 2009 inAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission v Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd [2009] FCA 960 (27 August 2009).

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Editors and staffers from the Law Desk at The Global Herald.

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