Amazon is taking legal action against the admins of over 10,000 Facebook groups that it says facilitate fake reviews for products on its platform by promising money or free products in exchange for positive reviews. The groups are allegedly responsible for fake reviews across Amazon’s sites in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan, the company has announced. Just one such group, called “Amazon Product Review,” reportedly had over 43,000 members.
The e-commerce giant has a well-documented problem with fake reviews, which has grown more pressing as third-party marketplace sellers make up a bigger and bigger proportion of sales on its platform. It officially banned incentivized reviews in October 2016, but four years later in 2020, a Financial Times investigation found that as many as nine out of the top ten reviewers on its platform in the UK were engaged in suspicious activity. A Verge investigation shed light on some of the tactics used across the network of Facebook groups aimed at facilitating fake reviews.
The e-commerce giant has been battling these inauthentic reviews for years, taking legal action against the brokers that help facilitate them as well as the Amazon sellers who buy them. In today’s press release, the company says it has over 12,000 employees worldwide working to prevent fraud and abuse on its platform, which includes fake reviews, and says it’s reported over 10,000 fake review groups to Facebook-owner Meta since 2020.
Amazon says it uses a combination of “advanced technology, expert investigators, and continuous monitoring” to detect fake reviews on its service. Over the past year and a bit, it’s kicked hundreds of sellers off its platform for violating its policies, including popular brands like RavPower and Aukey. It says it proactively stopped over 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020.
“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,” said Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services Dharmesh Mehta. “Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.”
Away from Amazon, social media company Meta is also shoring up its policies against fake reviews, and the UK’s competition regulator is also examining the problem. Amazon is calling for greater collaboration between organizations across both the public and private sector to address the issue.