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Amazon and Google face UK competition probe for fake reviews

Amazon and Google face UK competition probe for fake reviews

June 28, 2021: On Friday, Britain’s competition regulator launched a formal probe into Amazon and Google with the concerns they haven’t done enough to tackle the false reviews. “We are investigating concerns that Amazon and Google have not been doing enough to prevent fake reviews from protecting customers and honest businesses,” Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said.

“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,” Andrea added.

The false reviews of the consumers have proven to be a big problem in e-commerce, and Amazon is the main target for brands looking to excite their products online with fake, favorable write-ups. The company called on social media firms to help it weed out dishonest reviews last month.

The Competition and Markets Authority started an initial investigation into fake reviews in May 2020. The same year, it had gotten Facebook and eBay to remove some groups and accounts that engage in trading false reviews.

In April, the CMA said Facebook had removed thousands of more groups dealing in fake reviews and had made more changes to its systems to identify, prevent the content of such kind from appearing on its platforms.

On Friday, the CMA focuses on Amazon and Google, saying it would look into if they had done enough to detect and remove fake reviews. The probe will examine if the companies penalize reviewers or firms for deterring them from posting the scores that are misleading.

The watchdog also said it was worried systems of Amazon are failing to prevent sellers from product listings that are manipulating, giving the example of merchants co-opting positive reviews from other products.

The CMA hasn’t yet decided if Amazon and Google have broken the law at this stage. However, it would take enforcement action, including taking the companies to court if necessary to breach consumer protection law.

Amazon said it is devoting “significant resources” to prevent fake or incentivized reviews.

“We work hard to ensure that reviews accurately reflect the experience that customers have had with a product,” a spokesperson from the company told CNBC.

“We will continue to assist the CMA with its inquiries, and we note its confirmation that no findings have been made against our business.”

Google said the company’s policies “clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences.”

“We look forward to continuing our work with the CMA to share more on how our industry-leading technology and review teams work to help users find relevant and useful information on Google,” he added.

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