Amazon and Google are currently being scrutinized by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to ascertain whether they are doing enough to fight fake reviews. To this end, a formal probe has now been opened by the CMA to confirm whether this indeed is the case with the two tech giants.
Basically, the CMA in the first phase of its investigation, will be gathering further information to determine whether Amazon and Google have broken the consumer law by not acting enough to protect shoppers from fake reviews.
The latest investigation is coming on the heels of an initial probe, which was initiated by the CMA in May 2020. The probe assessed the internal systems and processes of many platforms for identifying and dealing with fake reviews.
The last probe threw up a couple of issues including:
- Detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious patterns of behaviour. For example, where the same users have reviewed the same range of products or businesses at similar times to each other and there is no connection between those products or businesses – or where the review suggests that the reviewer has received a payment or other incentive to write a positive review.
- Investigate and, where necessary, remove promptly fake and misleading reviews from their platforms.
- Impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses to deter them and others from posting fake or misleading reviews on their platforms – including those who have published these types of reviews many times.
The CMA is also worried that Amazon’s systems have been lagging in terms of preventing and discouraging some sellers from manipulating product listings. Citing the example of how positive reviews from other products are being co-opted
Commenting on the actions of Amazon and Google, the CMA’s Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said:
“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations. Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”
Among actions expected to be taken against Amazon and Google if found guilty are; securing formal commitments from the two companies to change the way they deal with fake reviews. The CMA could also take legal actions against the two American companies if that becomes necessary.
As things stand, it is still too early to conclude anything as investigations are still being carried out by the CMA.