Retailers may want to think twice before removing negative reviews from their websites.
The Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday that Fashion Nova, a popular fast-fashion clothing site, would be required to pay $4.2 million to settle allegations that it had suppressed customer reviews that gave products less than four out of five stars.
The agency said the case was its first involving a company’s efforts to conceal negative reviews.
Fashion Nova used a third-party product review system that held lower-starred reviews for approval before they could be posted, the F.T.C. said in a complaint. As early as 2015 and as late as 2019, Fashion Nova automatically posted four- and five-star reviews to its site but did not approve or publish hundreds of thousands of lower-starred, more negative reviews, according to the complaint.
Terry Fahn, a spokesman for Fashion Nova, said in an emailed statement that the F.T.C. allegations were