The United Kingdom’s antitrust regulatory body, the Competition and Markets Authority, is reportedly investigating Big Tech giants Amazon and Google for failing to address to issue of “fake reviews.”
“The 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,” the organization announced in a press release. “In this next phase of the work, the Competition and Markets Authority (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.”
The authority claimed that an initial investigation, which began in May 2020, raised “specific concerns,” such as whether Amazon and Google had done 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.
Investigate and, where necessary, remove promptly fake and misleading reviews from their platforms.
Impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses to deter them and others from posting fake or misleading reviews on their platforms — including those who have published these types of reviews many times.
“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,” said the CMA’s Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli. “We are 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.”
The press release also noted that the CMA was concerned that “Amazon’s systems have been failing adequately to prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings,” with one example being “co-opting positive reviews from other products.”
According to CNET, “an Amazon spokesperson said via email that the company devotes ‘significant resources’ to stopping fake reviews from appearing in its store and will work with the CMA in its probe.” Meanwhile, CNET added that a Google spokesperson said, “Our strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action — from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts.”
CNN reported that “The CMA has launched a separate investigation into Facebook looking at the same issue and last week said it is investigating Apple and Google’s dominance in mobile operating systems, app stores and web browsers.”
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