Most people agree that sometimes an online review of a product helps them make a decision when buying a product from Amazon. However, what happens when the reviews have been influenced by a particular desired outcome? If Amazon’s fake review lawsuit is anything to go by, customers have for the longest time been misled by fake reviews into purchasing products that may not necessarily be the best in the market. In July, the company filed a Seattle-based Superior court lawsuit against Facebook group administrators of over 10,000 groups.
In the lawsuit, Amazon is looking to learn the identities of individuals behind the fake reviews on their online third-party marketplace. Additionally, the company wants the Facebook groups shut down and proceeds from the illegal fake review brokerage returned to the company.
According to Amazon, some Facebook group administrators create groups and offer incentives such as free products. Amazon also claims administrators offer refunds to customers in exchange for positive reviews on different types of items. These fake reviews are then sold to legitimate Amazon sellers at an average price of $10 per review. They have also found ways to obscure their messages to avoid detection by moderators. Despite not having any defendants in the lawsuit, it mentioned Facebook group creators, admins, and moderators as key brokers of fake reviews on Amazon.
Who stands to gain from fake reviews? Of course, the persons who are sinking chunks of money into such activities. And several persons are bankrolling the whole process. Bad actors bankroll the fake review scheme to gain an advantage over their competitors. Using these Facebook groups, they can create a string of positive reviews to boost chances with online customers while deploying bad reviews to their competition.
Despite Facebook’s parent Company Meta taking down most of the groups, Amazon still faces a severe problem from new groups that emerge daily. This is in addition to the vice thriving on other social media platforms like Telegram, WhatsApp, and WeChat.
Consumers who rely on reviews to make online purchases are left disadvantaged. Not only do they end up with the wrong quality of products, but they have no one to blame for the misleading reviews. Without enough laws around fake reviews, it becomes increasingly difficult for Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers. Therefore, more stringent laws need to be developed to help curb the vice and aid consumers in getting value for their money.
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