Amazon flooded with “fake” reviews – Which?

Josh Hall's picture

Amazon is being overwhelmed with apparently fake reviews for tech products, risking consumer trust in the platform.

This is according to an investigation from consumer magazine Which?, which found tens of thousands of positive reviews from users the magazine believes are likely to be fake.

The reviews were left by ‘unverified’ users – that is, those who have not demonstrated that they actually made a purchase related to the feedback.

Which? says that the problem is so widespread that some products are seeing hundreds of positive unverified reviews every day, along with reviews that appear to be duplicates.

The investigation found that many of the reviews are being left on ‘unknown’ tech brands that are unfamiliar to both the reviewers and the public.

It is thought that unscrupulous sellers are using the fake reviews to push results for their products further up the Amazon search results.

But the glut of such reviews risks undermining public confidence in Amazon as a platform, especially as ‘social proof’ measures become even more important to consumers.

In a separate survey last year, Which? found that 97 per cent of shoppers now use online reviews when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

Amazon defends integrity of reviews

In an emailed message to Prolific London, Amazon said it invests significant resources in order to protect the integrity of reviews. “Even one inauthentic review is one too many”, it said.

“We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies.

“We use a combination of teams of investigators and automated technology to prevent and detect inauthentic reviews at scale, and to take action against the bad actors behind the abuse. 

Amazon said it estimates that more than 90 per cent of inauthentic reviews are computer generated, and insisted it uses machine learning technology to analyse all incoming and existing reviews 24/7 and block or remove inauthentic reviews. 

“Our team investigates suspect reviews, works with social media sites to stop inauthentic reviews at the source, pursues legal action to stop offenders  from planning reviews abuse, and feeds new information into our automated systems so it continues to improve and become more effective in catching abuse. 

“We work hard to enrich the shopping experience for our customers [and selling partners] with authentic reviews written by real customers. Customers can help by reporting any requests they get to manipulate reviews to customer service.” 

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