On June 25, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced an investigation into whether Amazon have broken consumer laws by failing to take action against fake reviews on it’s site.
They are investigating concerns that Amazon have not been doing enough to prevent or remove fake reviews to protect their customers and honest businesses. Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations.” She added that it was unfair to businesses that adhere to the rules if other businesses can give their own products fake 5-star reviews.
An Amazon spokesperson said in an email to The Verge that the company devotes “significant resources to preventing fake or incentivized reviews” from appearing on its platform, adding that the company works to ensure reviews accurately reflect a customer’s experience with a product. “We will continue to assist the CMA with its enquiries, and we note its confirmation that no findings have been made against our business,” the spokesperson said.
In a blog post, Amazon said some “bad actors” were using external platforms to buy and sell fake reviews, and it blamed social media companies it said had been slow to act in flagging fake reviews on their own platforms — although the response time had improved somewhat over the last year.
“While we appreciate that some social media companies have become much faster at responding, to address this problem at scale, it is imperative for social media companies to invest adequately in proactive controls to detect and enforce fake reviews ahead of our reporting the issue to them,” the blog post reads.
Amazon recently removed several gadget brands’ storefronts from its site following a Wall Street Journal into fake reviews.
Once it concludes its investigation, the CMA can take enforcement action if it finds Amazon has broken UK consumer protection laws, which could range from getting commitments from the tech firms to change how they handle fake reviews, to possible court action. The CMA noted that, at this stage, it “has not reached a view” on whether any laws have been broken.
The investigation is the UK regulator’s latest attempt to scrutinize fake reviews on US tech platforms. In April, Facebook removed 16,000 groups that were trading fake reviews after theCMA raised concerns.