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FTC Smacks Down Smartphone Acne Apps

The Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on the marketing of smartphone apps that claimed to treat acne with colored lights emitted by the phone.

The apps, AcneApp and Acne Pwner, advised users to place the phones next to their skin while blue and red lights flashed from the phone. They cited, falsely according to the FTC, that a study in a British medical journal proved such light therapy was an effective treatment.

Marketers of the app have agreed to stop making the claims and to pony up $14,294 (AcneApp) and $1,700 (Acne Pwner) as part of the settlement.

According to the FTC, there were approximately 3,300 downloads of the AcnePwner app at 99 cents, and 11,600 AcneApp downloads for $1.99.

According to the FTC complaint, there were approximately 3,300 downloads of AcnePwner, which was offered for 99 cents in the Android Marketplace. Ads for Acne Pwner stated, "Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!" The marketers of AcneApp claimed, "This app was developed by a dermatologist. A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%." There were approximately 11,600 downloads of AcneApp from the iTunes store, where it was sold for $1.99.

The FTC back in the spring signaled to concerned legislators that laws against deceptive advertising applied to mobile apps and that it was teeing up mobile app-related actions.