Fake reviews continue to be prevalent on Facebook despite new UK laws. This is according to a new study by Which? shows.
Companies could be fined a lot if they don’t stop fake reviews from appearing on their websites. The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill is soon to come out. The latest Which? investigation uncovered that more than 12 groups were trading false glowing reviews on Amazon, Google or Trustpilot for free goods or money. They shared over 62,000 members.
“Despite previous interventions by the regulator, our latest findings suggest an industry dedicated to fake review trading continues to thrive on Facebook, leaving consumers exposed to misleading information on some of the world’s biggest review and shopping platforms,” says Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy.
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill is needed to combat fake reviews and give consumers protections that are fit for the age of digital technology.
Amazon Top Reviews told Which? The researchers were informed that after the review was given five stars, a full refund would be issued. Products offered to review include earbuds as well as a fitness tracker, solar-powered sprinklers. curtains, and a weighted Hula hooper.
Meanwhile, the description of the ‘Trustpilot review Support’ group, started in January, and with 149 members, reads “We are here to boost your businesses by placing 5 star positive review” – strictly against Trustpilot’s terms and conditions.
And Which? calls out Facebook for inadequate warnings – while a search for ‘AMZ reviews’ now comes with a warning that the term is associated with fraudulent behavior, a search for ‘Amazon reviews’ does not.
Facebook has removed groups that were highlighted by Which?. Amazon, Google, and Trustpilot have all said they took legal action in the past against those who violated the rules.
Trustpilot, in a recent statement, said that they had sent “76 takedown requests” to various social media platforms including Meta to request the removal of pages, groups and accounts involved with selling reviews and other abuses.
“Continued efforts by our Fraud & Investigations and Legal teams ensured 60 abusive accounts and posts were successfully taken down in the same year – and this work is ongoing. Conversations with social networks about ways to work more closely together in order to address this problem on a continuing basis are welcome.
In April last year, the Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, was granted more powers in order to take action against fake online reviews. They can fine businesses up to 10% their total global revenue.
What? says that “the ease with which unsavory businesses and individuals operate these groups shows why the legislation must not be watered down, and platforms should have strong incentives to actively crackdown on such activity.”
It is important that the CMA be ready to act when social platforms do not stop illegal conduct.