Amazon is hoping to fight back against suspected fake consumer reviews on social media.
In a new lawsuit filed on Tuesday in King County Superior Court in Seattle, the e-commerce giant is accusing administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups of “attempting to orchestrate fake reviews on Amazon in exchange for money or free products.”
According to Amazon, these groups are set up to “recruit” individuals willing to post incentivized and misleading reviews on Amazon’s stores in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.
One of the groups, “Amazon Product Review,” had more than 43,000 members, and allegedly offered refunds or other payment to buyers willing to leave fake reviews. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, took down the group earlier this year. Amazon said its investigations revealed that the group’s administrators attempted to hide their activity and evade Facebook’s detection, in part by obfuscating letters from problematic phrases.
Amazon said in a statement that it employs more than 12,000 people around the world “dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse,” including fake reviews. Since 2020, Amazon said it has reported more than 10,000 fake review groups to Meta. Of these, Meta has taken down more than half of the groups for policy violations and continues to investigate others. As a result, Amazon said it had stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 alone.
“Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they’re ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media,” Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s VP of selling partner services, said in a statement. “Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.”
Today’s legal action is the latest step by Amazon aimed at stopping fraudsters who attempt to post fake reviews on the e-commerce site. In the past year, legal action from Amazon has shut down multiple major review brokers targeting customers in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
In an emailed statement to FN, a Meta spokesperson said: “Groups that solicit or encourage fake reviews violate our policies and are removed. We are working with Amazon on this matter and will continue to partner across the industry to address spam and fake reviews.”
According to Facebook’s community standards, the social media company has policies against fraud and deception and will remove content that “engages in, promotes, encourages or facilitates fake user reviews” in both public and private groups.
This lawsuit follows the news earlier this month that Amazon is under investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns that the company is giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business and sellers over third-party merchants on its marketplace.
Amazon is also under probe for similar concerns by the European Commission, which does not cover ongoing issues affecting the UK now that it has left the European Union. According to a statement from the CMA, the European Commission has previously opened 2 investigations covering the same areas. The British antitrust regulator said it will seek to liaise with the European Commission as its own investigation in the UK progresses.