A person engaged in covert advertising. The shill attempts to spread buzz by personally endorsing the product in public forums with the pretense of sincerity, when in fact he is being paid for his services.
There are multiple types of shilling, including, for example, when a seller does the following:
- Has a friend or family member purchase and leave a biased, inauthentic, or untruthful positive review.
- Compensates a third party through free or significantly reduced items, samples, cash, or other compensation, to purchase and leave a biased, inauthentic, or untruthful positive review.
- Opens a second account posing as an independent buyer to purchase from and leave a review for the first account. This is also called “sock puppetry.”
Transactions Between Friends and Family
Transactions and reviews between friends and family are not considered shilling as long as they reflect the honest, unbiased opinion of the buyer and meet the following criteria:
- The transaction must occur on Happinesz Shop.
- The buyer and seller may not share a material connection (such as a shared bank account, credit card, or financial interest in the shop being reviewed).
- The buyer must not be paid or otherwise compensated for the review.
- The sole purpose of the transaction may not be to leave a review.
Here are some sources on shilling: FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, FTC Act Section 5: Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices, European Parliament Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive, European Commission FAQ on Misleading Advertising