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Epic Settles with FTC: Where is Kinetic Social?

In the continuing saga of Epic Media aka Epic Marketplace aka and aka Kinetic Social, it seems that they have been in a quandary with the FTC for the last year or so. While it probably doesn’t matter, since we have no idea what company is what, nor what assets were transferred to their new company Kinetic Social, it’s still interesting to know that they settled with the FTC today, admitting to illegally gathering data without users permissions.

The settlement, found here, permanently bars Epic Media aka Whatever, from sniffing users browsers to find history and then target, without permission those users.

According to the press release by the FTC:

 Consumers searching the Internet shouldn’t have to worry about whether someone is going to go sniffing through the sensitive, personal details of their browsing history without their knowledge,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  “This type of unscrupulous behavior undermines consumers’ confidence, and we won’t tolerate it.

Whatever the agreement is, I’m not sure it really matters at this point, with Epic Media Group effectively gone, having wiped almost all history of its previous existence off the internet, including removing all corporate sites.

Strangely enough, their twitter account, last updated from 2011 is still active, and their last posts claiming the charges, originally noticed by a Stanford student in 2011 were completely false. Interestingly enough, now settling with the FTC (after shuttering their company) it seems that they’ve finally admitted not only were they doing something illegal, but were lying. What’s new?

Our friends at AdExchanger, were nice enough to point out that the FTC didn’t mention Kinetic Social, and even strangely enough referred to Epic in the present tense.

 The FTC’s announcement makes no mention of Kinetic Social, a company that is led by former Epic CEO Don Mathis and employs numerous former Epic employees. In a May story, AdExchanger noted the extensive similarities between the companies. We observed based on LinkedIn and other sources that Mathis and many other employees appeared to have taken jobs with Kinetic around the same time. The likeness extended to website copy, some of which was identical between the two companies.

Then in August, the NAI said Epic Media Group had ceased operations ”for economic and financial reasons.” Therefore it’s unclear why the FTC describes the company in the present tense. “Epic Marketplace is a large advertising network that has a presence on 45,000 websites.” Anyway, the FTC’s consent order on its signature page has places for Epic CEO Mathis’s signature, along with that of president David Graff, but does not actually display those signatures.

That last part is interesting: while claiming that they were no longer involved with Epic, and they had “moved on” it seems that legally Mathis was in fact running both companies at the same time, out of the same offices, using the same resources.

Oh that’s not at all suspicious.

Oh, let’s also not forget when we published they were going out of business, we received legal letters telling us that we were wrong.

Epic’s hope is that by changing their name and pretending that they are not the same company, people will ignore their FTC problems, their payment problems and their history of not being completely truthful to clients and publishers. However, thanks to the internet, most people still are putting the two together.

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattin
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.


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