Amazon filed legal papers last week against more than 1000 people who have allegedly posted "false, misleading and inauthentic" reviews of amazon products online. The action is at this stage targeting people who use fiverr.com, a labour marketplace where people offer to write reviews in exchange for cash. Normally, these people are paid to write and post negative reviews to boost sales of competing products, or to write positive reviews to boost product sales.
Amazon has already carried out an investigation into false review services and is now working with Fiverr on the technical aspects of the problem. However, Amazon also feels the need to create a greater deterrent for those who post false reviews.
There are 1,114 defendants to the action filed by Amazon - all of whom are listed as "John Doe" as their true identity is not known to Amazon.
Amazon outlined in the papers that they are taking legal action to protect its customers from such conduct and that they recognise the importance of these reviews when making purchasing decisions and that false reviews could tarnish the Amazon brand. Whilst the case is being filed in the United States, similar action could be taken in the UK. In fact, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has already investigated reviews and endorsements earlier this year and thus we may see further action being taken to prevent false reviews and endorsements over the next few years.
The report of the investigation published by the CMA it estimates around 54% of adults in the UK use online reviews before making purchases, with most of these buyers finding that the product matched their expectations taken from such reviews. This demonstrates the ever-increasing importance of online reviews to consumers. However, the CMA also uncovered the dark world of review and endorsement manipulation. The main concerns detailed in the report were:
- False reviews being posted
- Negative reviews being omitted
- Businesses paying for endorsements blogs, blogs and other articles without such endorsement being made clear to consumers.
The CMA has now produced information for businesses that can assist with ensuring they stay on the right side of the law when it comes to misleading consumers.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, said:
"Millions of people look at online reviews and endorsements before making decisions such as where to stay on holiday, or which plumber to use. We are committed to ensuring that consumers' trust in these important information tools is maintained, and will take enforcement action where necessary to tackle unlawful practices."
Posting false reviews can be deemed to be a breach of consumer law if the review misleads customers and it is likely we will see greater enforcement of the law and potentially, cases before the courts in the UK.
Follow us on Social