The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has urged the companies to crack down on the sale of fake reviews, which are illegal under the country’s consumer protection laws. The watchdog agency reviewed activity on the marketplaces over an eight month period and found over 100 eBay listings and 26 Facebook groups offering fake or misleading reviews for sale or trade.
It allowed that Facebook and Ebay aren’t intentionally facilitating these transactions (in both cases, they violate the sites’ terms of service) but said the companies must do more to prevent them. According to a survey from the consumer review website Trustpilot, more than three quarters of U.K. shoppers consult reviews before making a purchase online, and in 2015, the CMA found that online reviews impact £23 billion in spending annually.
“We want Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review of their sites to prevent fake and misleading online reviews from being bought and sold,” said CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli in a statement.
“Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with a product or service that’s not right for them,” he said. “They’re also unfair to businesses who do the right thing.”
The CMA said the companies have cooperated with its efforts so far, with Facebook removing “most” of the 26 groups. A quick search of each site reveals numerous listings and groups still purporting to sell reviews, however, and previous efforts by Amazon and other marketplaces to block these reviews from appearing on listings show how challenging the problem can be.
The CMA has previously conducted investigations and imposed fines on companies that have run afoul of regulations.
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