Amazon asks social media companies to help remove fake reviews

Amazon is appealing to social media companies to help curb the spread of fake reviews on its site.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Amazon said bad actors are increasingly turning to external social media platforms to buy and sell fake product reviews, making it harder for the company to put an end to the problem.

“Some use social networking services on their own; in other cases, they hire a third-party service provider to carry out this activity on their behalf, ”Amazon wrote in the blog post. “However, bad actors regularly try to take this transaction off Amazon to hide our ability to detect their activity and the relationship between the multiple accounts that are committing or profiting from this abuse.”

Amazon blamed social media companies for being too slow to act when it flagged fake review activity on their platforms, while noting that there have been some improvements in response times.

In the first three months of last year, Amazon said, it pointed more than 300 groups to social media companies, which “took an average of 45 days” to close. By contrast, during the same period this year, Amazon reported more than 1,000 groups to social media services, taking an average time of five days to remove the groups.

“While we appreciate that some social media companies have become much quicker to respond, to address this issue on a large scale, it is imperative that social media companies adequately invest in proactive controls to detect and enforce fake reviews before that we inform them of the problem. Amazon said.

While Amazon did not mention any social media platform by name, it is likely that the company was referring to the presence of fake review groups on Facebook. A 2018 investigation by a UK consumer watchdog group that found several “bounty review” groups on Facebook, potentially comprising tens of thousands of members, monitoring fake review schemes where users are asked purchase a product and leave a glowing review for a refund via PayPal.

Regulators have started to pay attention to fake review schemes on Facebook. Last year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said that Facebook was committed to better identifying, investigating and removing bogus review groups. A follow-up investigation by the CMA resulted in Facebook removing another 16,000 groups that were “dealing with false and misleading reviews,” according to the group.

Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously said that it prohibits fake reviews and has invested in automated and humane review teams to detect abuse.

Fake reviews have plagued Amazon for years. The problem has been compounded as Amazon’s online marketplace has grown to accumulate millions of third-party merchants. Fake reviews not only threaten to damage Amazon’s relationship with shoppers, they can also put shoppers at risk of purchasing faulty or counterfeit products.

Last year, Amazon removed 20,000 reviews after a Financial Times investigation found that Amazon’s top reviewers in the UK profited from posting fraudulent reviews.

Amazon has said that it invests heavily in machine learning tools and human moderators to root out fake reviews and other scams. The company said last year that it stopped more than 200 million alleged fake reviews before buyers saw them.

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