There are companies trading on positive product reviews. Amazon has decided to go for them

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It is not a new problem, but it is one of the most headaches that have brought Amazon in recent years. The e-commerce giant has long been looking for ways to curb fake reviews written to promote or boycott products. In its endeavor, the multinational tried algorithms able to “catch” misleading reviews, researchers and even has asked for collaboration to the networks. Now, in a step further, it has gone to court to sue two companies in the sector: Rebate and Appsallywhom he accuses of promoting it.

The objective: shield the trust of customers.

And, by the way, the image of his own image.

What is the problem. The mechanism is relatively simple and well known to Amazon users. Basically, it consists of “buying” reviews and ratings. The seller sees how his product gains valuation on the platform and the supposed client receives a consideration that can come through direct payment, reimbursement of the price of the merchandise or a free sample of the product, material that nothing prevents him from reselling through other platforms.

About a year ago, in May 2021, Safety Detectives revealed an entire scheme with more than 200,000 people willing to post fake reviews and ratings in exchange for keeping free products. The mechanics were more or less the same: the seller passed a list of items to the reviewer, who then took care of buying the products and uploading positive reviews. After a while, the seller compensated him by reimbursing the price through Paypal. It is not strange to later find these pieces, brand new, in Wallapop or Milanuncios.

The challenge: how to deal with the problem. The deception is easily explained; solving it, however, is considerably more complicated. In 2021, after the scandal uncovered by Safety Detectives broke out, Amazon recalled that it uses security tools machine learning and a team that analyzes more than ten million reviews every week. The objective, he commented to The country: “Stop those that do not meet our requirements before they are published.” “We monitor all signs for inappropriate behavior,” stressed the company Founded by Jeff Bezzos.

Six years ago, in October 2016, the multinational he claimed to be already at work. And while it has since deleted sellers from its platform, removed millions of fake reviewsidentified a good number of groups and has requested the collaboration of social networksThe truth is that the problem is still present. During the beginning of the pandemic, in full confinement and with online commerce on the rise, the monitoring service Fakestop analyzed the evaluations of the shopping website. Of the 720 million he studied between March and September 2020, he concluded that about 42% were unreliable. The data, he assured him, is similar to that of Black Friday.

Amazon politics, black on white. Amazon is very clear about what can and cannot be done with reviews. The platform stresses that comments must be “authentic”, whether positive or negative. “Any attempt to manipulate the content or characteristics of the community, even with the contribution of false, confusing or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited,” stresses the multinational, which encourages its users to report any “suspicion of manipulation”. The company has an Amazon Vine service, which includes free samples, but remember that it “invites” reviewers based on their level of trust in the community.

Leaked Database Unveils Scheme Involving Hundreds of Thousands of People Involved in Fake Amazon Reviews

Amazon’s response. What has been Amazon’s response, beyond trying to hunt down and delete the fraudulent reviews? In May 2021, for example, following the fake comment scandal uncovered by Safety Detectives, Aukey was removed from the platform. Months later the “cleaning” already added more than 600 Chinese brands. Now he has decided to sue two companies, Rebastet and Appsally, for allegedly mediating fraudulent valuations. In the briefs filed with the court, Amazon incorporates reports about the false review offers that the companies would offer. In the case of AppSally alone, you see 16 different packages.

The objective of the multinational online commerce is “to close two important intermediaries of false reviews” which it accuses of contributing to the “deception” of customers on platforms such as its own, Ebay, Walmart or Etsy. Total –picks up CNBC—, Amazon estimates that AppSally and Rebatest add just over 900,000 users “willing to write fake reviews” of products.

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What does the other party say? Ars Technica has contacted one of the companies that Amazon has sued, Rebatest, and their view of the case is slightly different. The firm ensures that its role is limited to that of acting as an intermediary, they offer a service and do not direct the valuation that the product receives, neither in one sense nor in another. “What we do is help sellers collect some useful feedback from our users after they’ve used the products and before they hit the market,” they argue: “Users themselves [deciden] do the review on amazon or not. As long as they complete the test reports on Rebatest, they will get the refund back. We do not force or incentivize our users to give five-star reviews.”

Does Buying Reviews Really Work? Positive reviews help products rank better on platforms. The question is… Beyond that effect or the influence they can exert about future customers, is there any point in buying fake reviews? In August 2020, a group of researchers from the University of California (UCLA) asked themselves the same question and published a report in which they throw out some interesting ideas. His broad conclusion is that fraudulent valuations can help, but in the short term.

“It is very effective in improving some seller results, such as the number of reviews, ratings, search position and sales rank. However, the effects are often short-lived, as many of these results return to the original results. pre-promotion levels a few weeks after fake reviews stop,” the article details, explaining that it has become “commonplace” for sellers to manipulate their online reputation.

The Internet review system is broken, and not just because of fake reviews on Amazon

The “real” long-term effect. “Over the long term, increased sales do not lead to a self-sustaining positive relationship between ratings and sales, and both sales and average ratings drop significantly once the garnering of fake reviews ends. In other words, the sellers don’t use feedback manipulation efficiently to solve a cold start problem,” study authors abound.

The analysis also concludes that manipulations can harm consumers, honest sellers and the reputation of the platform itself. Its authors acknowledge that Amazon removes reviews in a “well-targeted” manner, but warn of the “long delay” with which it acts before deleting comments. “The upshot is that this policy doesn’t eliminate the short-term benefits of these reviews or the harm they do to consumers,” he warns: “We also didn’t see a penalty in the organic ranking of products in keyword searches.”

It is not a new problem, but it is one of the most headaches that have brought Amazon in recent…

It is not a new problem, but it is one of the most headaches that have brought Amazon in recent…

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