Amazon has blamed social media platforms for the growing fake reviews crisis on its marketplace, as more damning evidence of review manipulation is uncovered by consumer groups.
Amazon, which now sees over 50 per cent of all items sold on its platform come from third party sellers, has called on social media giants to take greater responsibility for fake reviews which are largely facilitated on their platforms.
Fake reviews have become a major issue for Amazon over the past few years, seeing both the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and consumer watchdog Which? repeatedly demand more action from the retail giant to stamp out the practice.
Despite preventing more than 200 million fake reviews from being posted last year, Amazon has largely failed to contain the issue and has now pointed the finger at its rival tech giants.
“While we appreciate that some social media companies have become much faster at responding, to address this problem at scale, it is imperative for social media companies to invest adequately in proactive controls to detect and enforce fake reviews ahead of our reporting the issue to them,” Amazon said.
“We need social media companies whose services are being used to facilitate fake reviews to proactively invest in fraud and fake review controls, partner with us to stop these bad actors, and help consumers shop with confidence.”
While Amazon didn’t mention any companies by name, Facebook has repeatedly been cited as the hotspot for groups offering free goods and gift cards in exchange for positive reviews on Amazon.
It came as Which? published another investigation into the issue, revealing that five out of the nine ‘Amazon Best Seller’ product categories it analysed showed repeated evidence of incentivisation.
It also detailed numerous customers’ experiences who were persistently pursued by sellers to remove negative reviews.
One customer, who was offered numerous gift cards up to £50 to delete his two-star review said he “could not believe the persistence” of the seller.
Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio Concha said: “Amazon must, as an absolute minimum, do more to enforce its own policies – especially when evidence of manipulation is hidden in plain sight in its Best Sellers lists.
“The CMA needs to urgently get to the bottom of the problem of misleading and fake reviews and be prepared to take strong action to ensure consumers can trust the reviews that influence billions of pounds of spending every year.”
In response to Which?’s latest investigation, Amazon said: “We are relentless in our efforts to protect the integrity of customer reviews. We remove fake reviews and take action against anyone involved in abuse. We have won dozens of injunctions against providers of fake reviews across Europe and we won’t shy away from taking legal action.
“However, Amazon and other online retailers cannot do this alone. Customers need to be able to trust the reviews they see online and the systematic manipulation of reviews needs consistent enforcement and global coordination with stronger enforcement powers given to regulators against bad actors.”