House Energy & Commerce Demoratic leaders have called on Federal Trade Commission Joseph Simons to take immediate action to stem a flood of "deceptive advertising and dangerous misinformation" related to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The letter, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chair Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Consumer Protection Subcommittee chair Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
The FTC has sent letters to a number of marketers warning them about bogus claims.
They pointed out that an Amazon executive has testified that the company has removed a million products making false claims, but that "millions more" will likely proliferate. They also said that while Google and Facebook have policies prohibiting ads that capitalize on COVID-19 misinformation, they continue to appear. "These companies have little ability to combat misinformation regularly disseminated over encrypted messenger services like WhatsApp, which boasts 2 billion users across 180 countries."
They did not have much faith in platforms regulating themselves. "E-commerce platforms have already proven themselves incapable of policing malicious activity before the COVID-19 outbreak, and we simply cannot rely on these companies to protect Americans during a public health emergency."
They acknowledged the letters and the FTC's guidance about fraudulent products, but said he must do more.