UK Authorities Investigate Fake Reviews on Amazon and Google
Dealing With Fake and Misleading Reviews
The UK’s antitrust regulator is investigating Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOGL) regarding claims that the tech giants do not do enough to deal with fake and misleading reviews on their sites. This adds a new dimension to recent scrutiny of large tech companies.
Inauthentic reviews have been an issue for tech companies for years. Sellers on ecommerce platforms manipulate reviews in a variety of ways. Some go so far as to compensate buyers for giving products positive reviews. This is against the companies’ policies, but they have had difficulty cracking down on these practices.
The Ecommerce Boom Increases Dependence on Reviews
During the pandemic, consumers became very dependent on ecommerce site reviews. Because they were homebound and could not examine physical products in stores, reading reviews became an essential part of buying decisions for many people. Analysts expect that many consumers will keep up their online shopping habits formed during the pandemic, meaning that trustworthy reviews will continue to be important for people’s daily lives.
Google and Amazon’s review policies have come under scrutiny before. US regulators investigated Amazon’s efforts to remove fake reviews in 2019. Additionally, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an initial investigation of the problem in 2020. The ecommerce boom has increased the stakes for these investigations.
Amazon and Google Respond
The tech giants have responded, saying they are taking action to remove reviews which do not accurately reflect customer experiences. Amazon told regulators that last year it caught over 200 million fake reviews before customers saw them. It is also cracking down on social media groups where fake reviews circulate. Google has also shared that it has programs in place to remove untruthful reviews.
As tech giants gained prominence during the pandemic, they also attracted more regulatory scrutiny. The digital commerce industry will be watching closely to see how discussions between UK regulators and Google and Amazon unfold.
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