The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) didn't buy into the ads of Lumos Labs which claimed that its app, Lumosity, could boost brain power, improve performance at school and work, and even prevent the onset of dementia. Now, the brain game developer will have to fork up at least $2 million for what many are calling “lies” in its marketing which cannot be backed up by science.
According to Lumos Labs' ads, using its apps regularly could help mental performance and they charged subscribers around $15 for a monthly membership to access its games and puzzles, or up to $300 for a lifetime subscription.
However, the FTC, which requires all products that claim to prevent the onset of serious conditions and diseases, such as dementia from old age, to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, called out the company on its false advertising and had more than 70 experts in neurology and psychology publish a consensus that the claims the brain training industry frequently make are nothing more than “exaggerated marketing.”
Although some studies suggest that playing video games may improve cognitive function, Lumos Labs heavily marketed this claim for its Lumosity app and even claimed through its ads that playing games, which could only be accessed via paying a monthly subscription after a trial period, could even help delay memory loss and dementia from Alzheimer's disease.
Lumos Labs will now be required to settle the federal allegations with a fine of $2 million. In addition, the company has to contact all its subscribers who signed up between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2014 on how they can easily cancel their payment plan for Lumosity.
"Lumosity preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer's disease. But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads," said director of FTC's consumer protection unit, Jessica Rich.
"The aggressive advertising entices consumers to spend money on products and to take up new behaviors, such as gaming, based on these exaggerated claims,” added some cognitive experts.
According to reports, Lumos Labs was initially ordered to pay $50 million as penalties according to the judgement against them, however this fine was reduced due to their inability to pay.
Allan Ajifo | Flickr