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Amazon fights back against fake consumer product reviews

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

20 Jul 2022

Retail

Image: FashionUnited

Amazon has a fake product review problem. So much so that it is suing over 10,000 Facebook group administrators for “attempting to orchestrate fake reviews on Amazon in exchange for money or free products.”

Amazon said it takes the integrity of its reviews platform very seriously and will remove reviews, and delist related products. It also said it pursues lawsuits for reviews manipulation against dishonest sellers and manufacturers who attempt to purchase fraudulent reviews and the parties who provide and post those reviews. These lawsuits have produced monetary judgments exceeding the annual revenue for such sellers and data allowing us to take additional enforcement actions against others.

10,000 fake reviews on social media

Since 2020, Amazon said it has reported more than 10,000 fake review groups to Meta. Amazon employs more than 12,000 people around the world “dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse,” including fake reviews.

According to Footwear News, Meta has responded by removing half of the groups in violation of its policies, which Amazon said stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 alone.

Brands and merchants selling goods on Amazon are more likely to appear first in search results if their products are highly rated by previous purchases. Amazon says Facebook groups are recruited by vendors to leave bogus reviews.

One such group, called "Amazon Product Review", had over 43,000 members before it was cancelled by Facebook parent Meta. Another, named "Amazon Varified Buyer & Seller" contained more than 2,500 members. Group admins charged 10 dollars per fake review, according to CNBC. Reviewers were also lured with promises of free products in return for fake reviews.

These groups are set up to recruit individuals willing to post incentivized and misleading reviews on Amazon’s stores in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan, Amazon said in a statement.

"Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they're ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media," Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon's vice president of Selling Partner Services, said in a statement. "Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable."

Amazon was a pioneer of product reviews, having introduced them in 1995 to help customers make more informed shopping decisions. The retail giant concedes that brokering fake reviews remains an industry-wide problem, and law enforcement alone will not solve the problem. "Permanently ridding fake reviews across retail, travel, and other sectors will require greater public-private partnership, including collaboration between the affected companies, social media sites, and law enforcement, all focused on a goal of greater consumer protection."

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