Amazon goes after thousands of fake review groups on Facebook
Amazon.com yesterday filed lawsuits against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that it says recruited people to post fake reviews on its site in exchange for money or free products.
The groups were set up to find people “willing to post incentivized and misleading reviews” on Amazon’s websites operating in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan.
Amazon plans to use the information it receives through discovery in the suit to identify the companies or people engaged in this recruiting effort and remove any fake reviews they are connected with. The company said this will help find those engaged in defrauding its customers that it hasn’t been able to detect through its technology, investigators and monitoring processes.
“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 said that groups like those it has found on Facebook have solicited fake reviews on a wide range of products available for purchase on its platform. Meta removed one such group earlier this year that had more than 43,000 members. Amazon said that its investigators were able to determine that the group’s administrators managed to hide their activity from Facebook “by obfuscating letters from problematic phrases.”
The online retail giant said that the latest legal action is part of its ongoing effort to remove fraudsters from its sites around the world. The company said previous suits have enabled it to shut down review brokers in the U.S. and other markets.
Amazon maintains that it is diligent in seeking to prevent fake reviews and removing those that get through its filters. That said, it maintains that the problem goes beyond its platform and is an industry-wide challenge that will require a public/private partnership with other affected companies as well as social media sites and law enforcement. Amazon said it “remains eager to continue to partner with all the relevant stakeholders to achieve that mutual goal.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the public’s perception of the validity of reviews on Amazon’s site affected by legal action it takes to find fraudsters? Is Amazon correct that the issue of fake reviews is so big that it requires partnerships with other sales platforms, social media sites and law enforcement?