Amazon is targeting fake reviewers who reportedly got paid for penning positive posts on products. In its lawsuit, Amazon included ads that promise to give sellers the services of fake reviewers who will create five-star or other types of positive write-ups, reported ABC News.
The defendants are anonymous, totaling more than 1,000, and Amazon wants to nail those fake reviewers for earning money by crafting “false, misleading, and inauthentic” product reviews. Although writing a review on Amazon is easy, the company specifically bans fake reviewers from posting, and also has guidelines against getting paid to write a review.
In its lawsuit, Amazon has focused on 1,114 defendants. These “John Does” reportedly promoted their offering of fake reviewers on Fiverr. However, that freelance job business is not listed as a defendant.
Amazon has had an ongoing goal of detecting and banning fake reviewers. In its legal action against them, the company described them as “unfair and deceptive.”
The lawsuit follows an April action by Amazon, during which fake reviewers’ sites were sued. To help find these false five-star reviews on the site, Amazon uses artificial intelligence (AI).
The AI system works based on machine learning, and focuses on putting more emphasis on the valid reviews that can help customers. Included in the AI system are reviews that customers themselves vote as useful and more recent reviews, said company spokesperson Julie Law.
“Amazon is enhancing the customer reviews system. The system will continue to learn which reviews are most helpful to customers and improve the experience over time.”
And although the fake reviewers are getting legal attention, Amazon insists that most reviews are “authentic,” estimating that the percentage that goes against the company guidelines is relatively low.
“We continue to use a number of mechanisms to detect and remove the small fraction of reviews that violate our guidelines,” added Amazon. “We terminate accounts that abuse the system and we take legal action. We are currently taking legal action against a number of individuals including many that are referred to in the complaint filed Friday.”
But Amazon fake reviewers remain a problem, reported the New York Daily News.
Amazon’s challenge in catching those fake reviewers resides in their use of a variety of accounts utilizing unique IP addresses. So to nail the alleged criminals, Amazon played detective by investigating and buying from some fake reviewers.
In addition, the company is interacting with Fiverr to crack down on that part of the problem.
“While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufactures place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand,” said the company.
The fake reviewers issue previously received attention when a man in California who sold false write-ups of products was nailed in Amazon’s first lawsuit. Jay Gentile allegedly had several sites that focused on utilizing fake reviewers.
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” said the lawsuit.
But Forbes points out that a problem exists both for Amazon and its fake reviewers case and for reviews in general.
While authentic reviews are helpful, how do you tell if it’s real or fake? One method resides in showing what buyers who have been confirmed as paying for a product think of it. But even that doesn’t always work, because some companies offer bonuses such as loyalty points to customers who pen reviews.
Another way is to look at the most helpful reviewers, which Amazon actively promotes. That ecosystem can provide a way for customers to know whose reviews are most likely to be real, while weeding out the fake reviewers.
What do you think of Amazon and its fake reviewers conundrum? Do you believe what you read when it comes to those five-star reviews and use them to decide on a purchase? Post your comments below.
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