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Customer reviews are the lynchpin of e-commerce transactions as online consumers rely on other people who have used the product to gauge their own interest in a product.
But if the reviews you read have been planted by people who haven’t used the product and are looking to either convince you to buy the product or convince you that it is not worth your money, then the whole exercise becomes pointless.
Amazon recognizes that phony reviews are rampant on its third-party selling marketplace and now the tech giant is fighting back.
This week Amazon filed lawsuits against fake review brokers who the company says “orchestrate the posting of incentivized and misleading product reviews in exchange for money or free products.”
The lawsuits are aiming to take down AppSally and Rebatest, two major players in the fake review space.
Amazon alleges that the two brokers have their members post fake reviews not only on Amazon, but also eBay, Walmart and Etsy in an effort to sway consumer buying habits.
Amazon filed its lawsuit after conducting an in-depth investigation into suspect brokers. The company’s investigation found that the groups have more than 900,000 members willing to write fake reviews.
“Fake review brokers attempt to profit by deceiving unknowing consumers and creating an unfair competitive advantage that harms our selling partners,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president of WW Customer Trust & Partner Support, Amazon.(Above Photo)
“We know how valuable trustworthy reviews are to our customers. That is why we are holding these review fraudsters accountable.”
In order to avoid detection, Amazon says AppSally sells fake reviews for as low as $20, and instructs its bad actors to ship empty boxes to people willing to write fake reviews and provide the firm with photos to be uploaded alongside their reviews.
The company says that while it employs more than 10,000 employees globally to prevent millions of suspicious reviews from ever reaching its store, it needs to come after the source of the reviews to truly protect its shoppers.
For its part, New Zealand-based AppSally markets itself as a service that allows users to outrank their competition by tilting the scales. You can buy YouTube views or YouTube subscribers for as little as $18 in order to grow your channel. You can also buy Facebook likes, shares and followers for about $30.
A request for comment from AppSally and Rebatest were not immediately returned.
Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment on just how prevalent the fake reviews on the site are, but the company did say that it receives more than 30 million product reviews a week .
Amazon uses a combination of machine learning technology and human investigators to analyze each review to determine its validity before it is posted.
Amazon even takes the fight against these review farms away from its own platform.
Last year, Amazon reported over 16,000 abusive groups to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, resulting in groups with over 11 million members being taken down.
In 2020, Amazon says it stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews before they ever reached customers.