Amazon takes down over 20,000 fake reviews

Nearly all of the top ten users in the UK appear to have written fraudulent five-star reviews that undermine Amazon’s product recommendations.

Amazon has removed over 20,000 ‘fake’ reviews created by a small handful of top users as it struggles to keep on top of false and inaccurate user feedback.

Seven of the top ten UK reviewers have been engaging in suspicious activity, The Financial Times reported last week, posting thousands of five-star ratings on products in exchange for a quick buck from the supplier. Most were written for small and unknown Chinese companies.

Justin Fryer, the number one UK Amazon reviewer, wrote a five-star review once every four hours on average throughout August. Either Justin has a serious addiction to high quality products and feels the need to share his never-ending joy with the world, or he’s in cahoots with scammers and small-time companies. Fryer claims that all of his posts are legitimate and many of the items he’s reviewed end up being resold on eBay, though he has since deleted his review history from Amazon. Two other top users have now followed suit.

Scams such as these usually begin on smaller social network sites like Telegram, where companies reach out to individuals asking for five-star reviews and in exchange they’re given a full refund and sometimes extra cash on top. This is obviously very illegal and against Amazon’s terms of service.

The problem has been widespread on the site for years but has worsened over the course of 2020. Lockdown and an increased demand for online shopping has seen Amazon’s traffic surge and it’s believed that over 58% of products now have false or fraudulent reviews included in their listings according to Fakespot. If you can’t trust a mega corporation run by the world’s richest man then who can you trust, quite frankly.

Fake reviews do more than just irritate and cause an unnecessary fuss too. Wall Street Journal last year found that the ‘Amazon Choice’ badge was inadvertently promoting unsafe or fake products and the pandemic has meant more of us have bought medical supplies online than ever before. Amazon has already had to shut down overpriced item listings and ‘fake cure’ products that do more harm than good, and with false reviews floating about it’s now harder than ever to fully understand if what you’re purchasing is of genuine quality.

Removing 20,000 reviews is a start, but the fact that Amazon had to do this at all is troubling. False reviews that are mislabelled, out of date, or incorrect are a rampant issue and sellers are continually creating new ways to manipulate the algorithm. Until Amazon can adequately keep up we’re likely to see it continue.

Several thousand reviews may be gone but you can bet this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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