Amazon is going after the fake customer review industry with a vengeance.
Amazon.com has had enough of fake customer reviews, and they are taking some major action.
The company has filed lawsuits in Seattle against more than a thousand reviewers who have allegedly accepted money in exchange for fake reviews, indicating that Amazon thinks this is a big deal, as it won’t be cheap to take this action, according to a Forbes.com report.
Customers are welcoming the move, but there may be little Amazon can do. Even if the lawsuits work, it’s certainly possible the fake reviewers will simply move offshore to avoid prosecution, assuming that many of them aren’t already based outside U.S. borders and therefore impossible to prosecute. Most nations aren’t equipped to prosecute American laws, and therefore it will be relatively easy to simply recruits reviewers offshore.
In fact, the Forbes article speculates that some poorer countries may even welcome the fake review industry with open arms as a desperate way to boost their own economies.
There are some ways to combat it, with the article suggesting publishing the national location of each reviewer, but there are often ways around this methods.
Essentially, the industry operates by hiring freelancers to write fictional reviews. This artificially boosts the reviews for certain products, helping sales in the process theoretically.
Amazon has taken this action in the past, suing several websites that were peddling fake customer reviews allegedly, according to a Bloomberg Business report.
It represents a difficult challenge for the online retailer in an anonymous online world. The company wants all customers to be able to comment on their experience with products, but it creates a situation where it is difficult to weed out the fakes. Amazon insists that overall the number of fake reviews is small, but obviously it’s a significant enough number to warrant taking expensive legal action.
A total of 1,114 defendants were named in the lawsuit, although they were all identified as John Doe. Amazon investigated on its own, targeting freelancers on the site Fiverr and attempting to buy fake customer reviews that promised five-star ratings, and even told the buyer they could write their own reviews.
In the meantime, Amazon will attempt to put in place a number of mechanisms to stop the practice.
Julie Law, a spokeswoman for Amazon, was quoted in the Bloomberg report as saying: “We continue to use a number of mechanisms to detect and remove the small fraction of reviews that violate our guidelines. … We are currently taking legal action against a number of individuals including many that are referred to here.”
Fiverr, for its part, claimed it was cooperating with Amazon and would do its best to stamp out the practice. Fiverr aims to connect companies with freelancers, and claims that this use of its service is a violation of its terms of service.