Amazon asks social media companies to help it root out fake reviews

An Amazon.com delivery driver carries boxes into a delivery truck outside a distribution facility in Hawthorne, Calif., On February 2, 2021.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon appeals to social media companies to curb the spread of fake reviews on its website.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Amazon said that bad actors are increasingly turning to outside social media platforms to buy and sell fake product reviews, which has made it harder for the company to put an end to the problem.

“Some use social media services themselves; in other cases they hire a third party to carry out this activity on their behalf,” wrote Amazon in the blog post. “However, malicious actors regularly attempt to conduct this transaction outside of Amazon in order to mask our ability to identify their activities and the relationship between the multiple accounts that commit or benefit from this abuse.”

Amazon accused social media companies of acting too slowly when reporting fake review activity on their platforms, while also finding that response times have improved.

In the first three months of last year, Amazon reported more than 300 groups to social media companies that it “took an average of 45 days” to shut them down. In contrast, during the same period this year, Amazon reported over 1,000 groups to social media services that took a median of five days to remove the groups.

“While we know some social media companies are reacting much faster, it is imperative for social media companies to invest appropriately in proactive controls to detect and enforce fake reviews before we report the problem to them To tackle problem on a large scale, ”said Amazon.

While Amazon hasn’t named any social media platforms by name, it’s likely the company was referring to the presence of fake review groups on Facebook. A 2018 study by the UK consumer protection group that found multiple “Reward Reviews” groups on Facebook, potentially tens of thousands of members, that monitor fake review schemes that encourage users to buy a product and give them an enthusiastic review to leave a refund through PayPal to receive them.

Regulators have started paying attention to the fake rating schemes on Facebook. Last year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said Facebook was committed to better identifying, investigating and removing fake review groups. A follow-up investigation by the CMA resulted in Facebook removing an additional 16,000 groups that “traded in fake and misleading reviews,” the group said.

Facebook officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company previously stated that it bans fake reviews and has invested in automated and human review teams to detect abuse.

Fake reviews have plagued Amazon for years. The problem has worsened as Amazon’s online marketplace has grown to include millions of third-party providers. Fake reviews not only threaten Amazon’s relationship with buyers, but can also expose buyers to the risk of buying faulty or counterfeit goods.

Last year, Amazon removed 20,000 reviews after a Financial Times investigation found that the UK’s top Amazon reviewers benefited from posting fraudulent reviews.

Amazon has announced that it will invest heavily in machine learning tools and human moderators to uncover fake reviews and other scams. The company said last year it stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from being viewed by buyers.

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