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Amazon & Google Investigated By UK Regulator Over Fake Reviews

 |  June 25, 2021

Amazon and Google are to be investigated by the UK competition watchdog over concerns the tech companies have not done enough to tackle the widespread problem of fake reviews on their websites.

The Competition and Markets Authority, which began looking at the issue of fake reviews on major platforms two years ago, will now consider whether Amazon and Google have broken consumer law by not taking sufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

Sellers use fake and misleading reviews to improve their star ratings, which can in turn affect how prominently their company, and products, are displayed when consumers shop online.

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” said Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the CMA. “Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

The CMA said its work so far raised “specific concerns” that the two Silicon Valley companies were not doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious patterns of behavior and investigate those reviews, and were failing to impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses who break the rules on posts – even the serial offenders.

It was also concerned that Amazon’s systems have been failing to “adequately protect and deter” some sellers from manipulating product listings – for example, by co-opting positive reviews from other products.

If the CMA’s investigation finds Amazon and Google have broken consumer law it could take enforcement action. This could include securing formal commitments from Amazon and Google to crack down on the problem, or pursuing court action if they fail to do so.

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