Amazon Blames Fake Product Reviews on Social Media Companies

The ecommerce giant says that media companies don’t act fast enough to shut down fake review groups.

Fake reviews have long been a problem on Amazon, but the problem is growing. Nowadays, plenty of sellers try to game the system, soliciting fake reviews to encourage sales and to float their products to the top of search.

Many of these fake reviews are initiated outside the Amazon platform. It’s common for groups on social media sites, particularly Facebook, to trade in reviews.

Now, Amazon has published a blog post which blames these social media companies for not acting quick enough to shut down these bad actors.

In a post on the Amazon blog attributed only to “Amazon Staff,” the company has blamed social media companies for their role in the fake reviews that flood Amazon.

According to the post, Amazon stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from appearing on the site in 2020.

Not only are these reviews stopped before customers see them, but Amazon shuts down the associated accounts, claiming that it uses “advanced machine learning” to detect groups and connected entities.

Amazon says it’s harder to detect fake reviews when they begin outside its ecosystem. “We have seen an increasing trend of bad actors attempting to solicit fake reviews outside Amazon, particularly via social media services,” reads the post.

In the first three months of 2020, Amazon reported over 300 fake review groups to social media companies, with a median time of 45 days to shut down. In the first three months of 2021, that time had decreased down to a median of five days.

While Amazon appreciates the faster response times, the shopping giant calls upon social media companies to “invest adequately in proactive controls to detect and enforce fake reviews ahead of our reporting the issue to them”.

Are Fake a Big Problem on Amazon?

There’s no doubt that fake reviews is a big problem for Amazon and those who shop on it. It’s the reason why tools to help filter fake Amazon reviews exist.

In February 2021, an investigation by consumer watchdog Which? found that it was easy to game the system by buying fake reviews, obtaining contact information for Amazon reviewers, and giving free or discounted products in exchange for positive reviews.

While Amazon doesn’t specifically call out any service in its blog post, it’s likely the finger is pointed at Facebook. In April 2021, Facebook removed more than 16,000 groups selling fake reviews, after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority had to intervene.

In closing its post, Amazon says:

We need social media companies whose services are being used to facilitate fake reviews to proactively invest in fraud and fake review controls, partner with us to stop these bad actors, and help consumers shop with confidence.

While it’s true that social media is to blame, it’s also on Amazon to step up—only allowing reviews from verified buyers would be a good start.

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