Fake reviews have been a problem since before the e-commerce industry took off. However, it’s insurgence has led to a marked rise in the problem. Every e-commerce platform is home to fake and paid reviews. However, none are as badly riddled with the problem as Amazon.
The Impact of COVID-19
Amazon’s most widely used consumer metric for quality assurance are their reviews. They help the consumer understand the authenticity of the product and the reliability of the supplier. It is rare to find anything on the website that is not teeming to the brim with multiple reviews.
However, these reviews are not at all trustworthy. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the world of online retail surged to the top and with it the number of fake reviews. Online sales reached new heights but many product listings were filled with fake reviews.
Fake Review Facebook Groups
The pandemic of fake reviews has reached such heights that there are full-fledged Facebook groups for such activities. These groups help organize people and pay them to target products and companies with a sludge of fake reviews.
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Moreover, the problem has grown so large that these groups even make use of artificial intelligence software for their work. Click farms and bots are used to support negative reviews online. Such activities are targetted towards competitor brands in order to take them out of the equation.
A study conducted by UCLA and USC revealed that up to 20 fake review groups are active on Facebook. Furthermore, each group has an average number of 16,000 members. The number of predicted postings that came up were up to 560 per day. What’s worse is that fake reviews are being sold for prices as low as 6$.
The Fake Review Pandemic
With the COVID-19 pandemic, people have resorted almost entirely to online shopping. Thus, making the problem of fake reviews much more serious. In the last couple of months, fake reviews have promoted unsafe products from shady businesses. While at the same time impeding sales for genuine and legitimate sellers.
Moreover, many sellers have resorted to bullying customers as well now. If customers post a negative review of the product, the company refuses to refund them. Furthermore, even if they do agree to the refund it is only after the customer has taken down their review.
Additionally, companies are buying positive reviews from their own customers as well. Many-a-times, customers are incited to post an extensively positive review and in return receive a free item from the company as compensation.
What started out as a soft problem for Amazon is now resulting in major companies cutting ties with them. Amazon has taken some steps to combat the issue. The company is currently working on using machine-learning to halt the growth of fake reviews. Moreover, Amazon has removed up to 20,00 fraudulent reviews in recent months.
Furthermore, the company is pushing content to spread awareness regarding the problem. “How to spot fake reviews” videos are being made public to help consumers avoid this problem.
The growing problem of fake reviews has indefinitely gotten out of hand. Legitimate businesses are being slashed down due to it. Additionally, fraudulent products are beginning to dominate the market. It is nice to see Amazon taking steps to curb such activities. However, the response has come awfully late in this regard.
A solution could be for Amazon to conduct frequent sweeps of user-profiles and remove any bots that it may find. It could help reduce the support fake reviews get. However, this is just a drop in the sea. Amazon needs to focus its efforts on finding a lasting solution to this problem.