The United Kingdom’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has confirmed that it is reviewing the actions of Amazon and Google. The problem of fake reviews has caught the attention of the watchdog, with the removal efforts of the tech companies being examined.
CMA started its investigation into the matter of fake reviews back in May 2021, but on June 25, 2021, it said that it would look into that matter. The watchdog will determine whether Amazon and Google have done enough to find and remove such reviews.
Last September, Amazon claimed that it had eliminated tens of thousands of product reviews after analyses by academics and media outlets into the challenge of fake reviews, an issue that seemed to have worsened due to the pandemic.
Many five-star reviews are an integral element of enhancing a product’s rankings on Google and Amazon websites. Misleading reviews exist in the e-commerce world which is affecting Amazon extensively.
The CMA said that it 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.”
CMA investigations opened in May 2021 and assessed many platforms’ internal systems and processes for determining and dealing with fake reviews. Based on the watchdog, it flagged up particular worries like whether Google and Amazon have been doing enough to:
- Investigate and, when needed, remove speedily fake and misleading reviews from their platforms.
- Detecting phony and misleading reviews and suspicious patterns of behavior. For instance, where the same clients and users have reviewed the same range of businesses or products at similar times to one another and there is no definite connection between the products or businesses; or even where the review suggests that the reviewer had got a payment or other incentive to write a positive review.
- Impose enough sanctions on businesses or reviewers to deter them and other users from posting fake or misleading reviews on their site; including the ones that have published these types of reviews many times.
The UK watchdog stated that it was also worried that Amazon’s systems have not been doing enough to deter and prevent some sellers from manipulating their product listings. For instance, by co-opting positive reviews from the other products.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said:
“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.”
“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.”
If the regulator determines that Amazon and Google have infringed or broken consumer protection law, it might take enforcement action. They might do things ranging from changing the manner they deal with fake reviews, securing formal commitments from the companies to escalating court action whenever necessary.