Slam down against brand damage from fake reviews
The digitally savvy who post erroneous reviews of books, hospitality outlets or holidays have to take care as Amazon is currently filing papers in the US against 1114 people it alleges offered to write glowing or five-star reviews of titles to help boost sales on behalf of unprincipled authors or sellers.
The online retail giant said in the lawsuit that its brand reputation is being tarnished by “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews by people it refers to as “John Does” as it does know know their real names. These people offer their services for just over $7.
TripAdvisor, the online review site, said it has already closed almost 30 businesses dedicated to posting fake reviews on its site in the last six months, with dozens more now likely to be in its sights.
“Legal experts said although the Amazon court case will rely on US law, the move could signal further moves in Britain to track down perpetrators,” recounted the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
“Millions of consumers who rely on internet retailers for everything from the weekly shop to annual holiday are thought to have been exposed to fake reviews aiming to boost one company’s rankings or knock a rival.
“As shops, restaurants, hotels and online retailers increasingly come to recognise the power of online feedback, a trade in embellished reviews has sprung up.
“It includes a network of small firms or freelance forgers operating as so-called ‘optimisers’, manufacturing batches of favourable write-ups to order for about £3 each.”
Amazon is targeting individuals who offered their services on the website Fiverr.com, an online labour exchange, which it is not targeting as they are allies in the quest to halt erroneous reviews.
The retailer has disclosed it has carried out its own investigation, included posing as would-be customers and purchasing fake reviews from those who promised fallacious ratings and offered to let the purchaser write the review themselves.
Companies found commissioning fake reviews can have a red warning placed next to them on the site with potentially devastating effects on their reputation.
The legal action says: “Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate.”