Threat Management, Incident Response, TDR settles with FTC

Updated Monday, Dec. 17, at 5:18 p.m. EST.

A website that promotes itself as “the world's largest sex and swingers personal community” has settled a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission. on Thursday agreed to a settlement barring it from sending sexually explicit online advertising to users who are not seeking adult content.


The website, and its parent company, Various, Inc., was accused of violating the FTC Act by using graphic ads and sexually explicit images in advertisements, without customer consent, to divert traffic.


Affiliates of had displayed advertisements containing adult content, or graphic descriptions of sexual activity, to consumers using search terms to find flowers and travel information, according to the FTC.


Alex Eckelberry, Sunbelt Software president and CEO, said on his company's blog that's affiliates use extremely aggressive tactics to drive traffic to the website.


“And any malware researcher has also seen AFF ads in spyware. Whether this is through affiliates or not, it is still the responsibility of the company to advertise through legitimate channels – not through malware,” he said. “Their advertisements have also been seen extensively in fake pages on social-networking sites, and there's been plenty of fake ‘friend' invites through these networks – which are only designed to feed the site with more subscribers. Again, this may or may not be done directly by AFF, but it's still their responsibility.”


Ira Rothken, Various' attorney, told today that the company “agreed with the FTC's goals” to provide advertisements for non-consenting consumers without sexually explicit content.


“I would have to say that is never happy to learn that some of its online affiliates have been violating its terms of use,” he said. “So when the FTC brought this to their attention, [Various] took prompt action.”


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