Amazon Plagued by Fake Customer Reviews
A large number of Amazon.com reviews are fraudulent and generated via Facebook, The Seattle Times reports. An examination by The Washington Post revealed that dozens of networks across Facebook allow merchants to seek shoppers to give glowing feedback on their products in exchange for money or gifts. Amazon has prohibited paid reviews for over a year due to research that found that many customers distrust paid reviews and may be less inclined to buy the product. However, this ban only pushed the activity onto other platforms such as Facebook, where it's hard to track the networks that allow sellers to find shoppers willing to be paid to leave a fraudulent review. Inauthentic reviews push product rankings sky high on products that may not be high quality and can crush other sellers that rely on legitimate reviews. The matching communities are not a secret, and many wonder why Amazon doesn't take more action to prevent fraudulent reviews from misleading its customers.
Total Retail’s Take: The examination by The Washington Post confirms the severity of the paid review issue on Amazon. As Amazon sits idly by while its marketplace fills with fraudulent reviews, customers may begin to lose trust in the online giant. Customers place high value and trust in other customers’ ratings and reviews of products. A 2017 survey by BrightLocal reports that 85 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, but that nearly just as many cannot spot fake reviews when they read them. Amazon says it actively bans incentivized reviews using a "machine learned algorithm," and that customer trust is key. However, its actions (or lack thereof) suggest otherwise. Granted, with merchants using social platforms such as Facebook to elicit fake reviews from customer accounts, Amazon's job of enforcing its existing policy has gotten significantly harder. Amazon needs to ramp up its vetting process to find and eliminate fraudulent product reviews before shoppers lose trust in fellow customers’ reviews and in the retailer itself.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content manager at Total Retail and sister brand Women in Retail Leadership Circle. She is passionate about digital media and handles social media, video, and podcast production for both brands, as well as contributing articles and attending events. Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia.