If reviews of the last completely necessary and not at all superfluous thing you bought on Amazon sounded like so much copypasta, there’s a good reason: fake reviews abound and people get paid to post them.
Amazon filed a lawsuit on Monday against administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that coordinate money or goods for shoppers willing to post fake product reviews. The global groups served to recruit potential fake reviewers and operated in Amazon’s online storefronts in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy.
If 10,000 Facebook Groups sounds like a lot, that’s apparently the sum total of Groups Amazon has reported to Facebook since 2020. The company notes that legal actions it has taken in the past have been effective and are “closing several major review brokers”, and yet here we are. They’ve been chasing people for this stuff since all the way back in 2015.
The company named a group, “Amazon Product Review”, which had more than 40,000 members until Facebook took it down earlier in 2022. ‘AI of swapping a few letters in sentences that make it pop.
Amazon says it will leverage the discovery process to “identify bad actors and remove fake reviews commissioned by these scammers that have not yet been detected by Amazon’s advanced technology, expert investigators, and ongoing monitoring.” .
The surveillance may be ongoing, but it’s clear that thousands upon thousands of illegitimate reviews are pushing products onto the online retailer’s massive digital storefront, all over the world, every day. And regulators are taking notice – something that is sure to ignite a small fire under everyone’s favorite online shopping monolith.
Amazon has been plagued with reviews that artificially boost product ratings for years. A 2018 Washington Post investigation found that fake reviews clearly dominated certain product categories, including Bluetooth headphones and dietary supplements.
At the time, the Post uncovered a thriving cottage industry selling fake reviews on Facebook. Sellers woo Amazon shoppers on Facebook across “dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give rave reviews in exchange for money or other compensation,” according to the Post.
Amazon acknowledged the scale of the problem in a blog post last year. “Due to our continued improvements in detecting fake reviews and connections between buying and selling accounts of bad actors, we have seen a growing trend of bad actors attempting to solicit fake reviews outside of Amazon. , particularly through social media services,” the company wrote.
Amazon said it reported more than 1,000 review sales groups on social media platforms in the first quarter of 2021, three times more than the same period a year earlier. Whether this speaks to the prevalence of fake reviews or whether the online retailer is taking the issue more seriously is unclear, but the company was keen to pin the blame on social media companies for their lax enforcement of these groups when they violate the rules of the platform.
Ultimately, fake reviews aren’t the worst kind of misleading content that internet companies fail to eradicate. But they are another example of how when you have an internet machine massive enough to print money (or burn money) systemic issues can spiral out of control while you’re headlong running the line . And sometimes these problems incite all sorts of bad or weird things. In this case: a small industry of people profiting from the beauty of shoddy products – and once it’s all up and running, it’s hard to untangle the mess created by the big slot machine.