AdultFriendFinder Settles FTC Charges

The adult site was accused of serving up sexually explicit pop-up ads without consumer consent.

An adult social network that caters to the "sex and swingers" community agreed Dec. 6 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its use of sexually explicit pop-up ads violates federal law.

According to the FTC, Various, Inc., a California corporation doing business as AdultFriendFinder, and, as well as its various advertising affiliates use pop-up ads to drive traffic to its sites. Some of the ads included graphic depictions of sexual behavior, exposing consumers—including children—to sexually explicit images.

The FTC claims the pop-ups were delivered to consumers who were searching online with simple parameters such as "flowers," "travel" and "vacations." In some cases, the FTC contends, the company's sexually explicit ads were distributed using spyware and adware.

The agency alleged that displaying graphic pop-up ads without consumer consent was an unfair trade practice and violated the FTC Act.

The settlement bars Various from displaying sexually explicit ads unless consumers are actively seeking out such content or if consumers have consented to receive the content. The settlement also requires Various to take steps to ensure that its affiliates comply with the restrictions and terminate relationships with affiliates who do not comply.

In addition, Various was ordered to establish an Internet-based mechanism for consumers to submit complaints.

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