Amazon sues admins of over 10,000 Facebook groups over fake reviews

Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups which it accuses of coordinating fake reviews in exchange for money or free products.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said in a statement on its website on Tuesday that the Facebook groups were created to recruit people “willing to post inciting and misleading reviews” at its stores in the United States, the United Kingdom UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.

The problem of fake reviews isn’t new to Amazon, or to e-commerce as a whole. AmazonAMZN,
itself has previously sued people it claims offered false testimonials, though lawmakers and regulators have questioned whether the company is doing enough to combat the problem. Last year, UK competition regulators launched an investigation into whether online retailer and Alphabet’s GOOGL,
Google was taking adequate steps to protect buyers.

In the statement, Amazon said one of the Facebook groups it targets, called “Amazon Product Review,” has more than 43,000 members. The company said Facebook removed the group this year, but was able to dodge the platform’s detection by “changing the letters in phrases that could set off Facebook’s alarms.”

Amazon noted that since 2020 it has reported over 10,000 fake review groups to Meta META,
Facebook’s parent company. Meta has removed half of those groups and is investigating the rest, Amazon said.

The retailer’s announcement comes as another aspect of the company’s operations is coming under greater scrutiny. On Tuesday, federal labor officials confirmed to the AP that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had opened inspections at Amazon facilities in New York, Illinois and Florida after receiving referrals alleging safety and health violations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. .

Nicholas Biase, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, said federal labor officials entered Amazon warehouses on Monday morning after their office made referrals about “potential workplace hazards.” work,” including “the work rate required by Amazon for its warehouse workers.”

Labor and safety advocates have long criticized Amazon’s accident rates and its “leave task” tool, which blames workers for taking too many breaks. Biase said the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating security risks at the company’s warehouses across the country, as well as “fraudulent conduct designed to conceal injuries from OSHA and others”.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy acknowledged in a letter to shareholders last April that injury rates at the company’s warehouses “were a bit higher than average” compared to other warehouses. But Jassy said the “courier and delivery” side of their operations had seen lower injury rates, making the business “about average” compared to its peers.

“We will of course cooperate with OSHA in their investigation, and we believe this will ultimately show that these concerns are unfounded,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office encourages current and former Amazon warehouse workers to report workplace safety issues directly to them.

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