Amazon is calling on the public and private sectors to unite in an effort against fake online product reviews.
In a corporate blog post, Dharmesh Mehta, VP, worldwide selling partner services, Amazon said that during 2022, 125 million customers contributed nearly 1.5 billion reviews and ratings to Amazon stores. To ensure review authenticity, the e-tail giant leverages technologies such as machine learning models that analyze thousands of data points to detect risk, as well as human expert investigators.
According to Amazon, it proactively blocked over 200 million suspected fake reviews from its stores in 2022. However, in recent years, Amazon says fake reviews are primarily being driven by the emergence of an illicit “fake review broker” industry that solicits fraudulent consumer reviews in exchange for money or free products, through websites, social media channels, and encrypted messaging services.
As of the end of May 2023, Amazon says it had taken legal action against 94 bad actors, including fraudsters in the U.S., China, and Europe.
However, to maximize the success of efforts to stop and shut down fake reviews, Amazon is recommending the private sector, consumer groups, and governments work together following a four-step “blueprint”:
1. Greater information sharing about known bad actors: Amazon seeks opportunities to share information about known fake review bad actors with consumer groups and industry partners around the world. Through cross-industry sharing—including information on bad actors’ tactics and techniques, who they are targeting, the services they provide, and how they operate—Amazon says it can more effectively shut down their schemes.
2. Clearer enforcement authority and greater funding to hold bad actors accountable: In some countries, Amazon advises that governments should establish enforcement authority or stronger enforcement tools to penalize fake review brokers. In countries that already have legislation or regulations against soliciting fake reviews, the e-tailer says regulators should be doing more to use their existing enforcement authority to take action against fake review brokers. Amazon also supports greater funding for law enforcement to build further technical expertise to investigate and shut down brokers.
3.Better controls for services that facilitate fake review solicitation: Fake review brokers use third-party services like social media and encrypted third-party messaging services to facilitate their illicit schemes. Amazon investigates and regularly reports abusive groups, deceptive influencers, and other bad actors to these third parties. In 2022, Amazon reported more than 23,000 abusive social media groups, with over 46 million members and followers, that facilitated fake reviews on social media sites.
In order to further disrupt fake review networks and address the problem at scale, Amazon wants to work with third-party media companies to help improve their detection methods and ensure they have better controls to detect fake review networks and shut them down proactively.
“We are committed to ensuring our reviews remain a trustworthy, insightful resource for customers, Mehta said in the blog post. “Amazon will continue to protect our stores from fake reviews by investing in proactive tools to detect and stop fake reviews from impacting a customer’s buying decision. We will also continue taking legal action against fake review brokers. However, we cannot win this fight alone. Only through partnerships with like-minded stakeholders across the private and public sector can we truly stop fake review brokers, address the problem at the source, and help ensure that reviews are trustworthy across the industry.