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UK to investigate Amazon and Google over fake reviews


The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened a formal probe into Amazon and Google over concerns that they have not been doing enough to combat fake reviews on their sites.

“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,” Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s Chief Executive, is quoted in a press release.

CMA will gather further information to determine whether these two firms may have broken consumer law by taking insufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

Coscelli said CMA is investigating concerns that Amazon and Google have not been doing enough to prevent or remove fake reviews to protect customers and honest businesses.

“It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility, and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough,” she is quoted as saying.

Photo to by Reuters / Toby Melville

Regulators are concerned whether Amazon and Google have been doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious patterns of behavior. 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.

The CMA is also concerned that Amazon’s systems have been failing adequately to prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings – for example, by co-opting positive reviews from other products.

Fake and misleading reviews have the potential to impact businesses’ star ratings and how prominently companies and products are displayed to consumers, changing their whole shopping experience.

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