The existence of a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews has been noted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) of the United Kingdom. The agency said that their conclusion was based on evidences for the same that were “troubling”.
The CMA strongly expressed their concerns over about over more than 100 eBay listings that allegedly were offering fake reviews for sale following a series of web sweeps performed by the organization in the period between November 2018 and June 2019. In the same review period, the agency also identified at least 26 Facebook groups in total which were using fake reviews or which offered people to write fake reviews or the evidence of businesses recruiting people to pen post fake and misleading reviews on popular shopping and review sites in favor of the businesses.
The CMA estimates that in the UK, online reviews are considered and given importance to by about more than three-quarters of internet users in the country while they decide on making a purchase. Online reviews of products and services tend to have an influence on billions of pounds being spent by Britishers, the agency noted. And hence the rising trend of publishing fake or misleading reviews of products and services not only results in such common people purchasing products on the basis of ill informed knowledge and poor choices and purchasing the wrong products or services, but such reviews are also illegal according to the prevailing consumer protection law in eth UK.
The allegations and conclusions of the CMA are not directed at accusing either Facebook or eBay to be engaged in willful or intentional posting of such content or even intentionally allowing such content to be published on their online platforms. The organization noted that both the companies – Facebook and eBay, have offered their pledge of cooperation after the CMA wrote to the companies about the issue. Facebook has already removed most of the identified 26 groups from its platform, the company has informed the CMA. While welcoming and applauding the attitudes and efforts of the two companies over the issue, the CMA has also said that it expects both the companies to implement measures that would be able to ensure the removal of all of the identified content as well as prevention of similar content from being posted in the future.
“Lots of us rely on reviews when shopping online to decide what to buy. It is important that people are able to trust that reviews are genuine, rather than something someone has been paid to write. Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with a product or service that’s not right for them. They’re also unfair to businesses who do the right thing. 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 Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive.
The CMA said that this was the first part of a wider program that has been taken up by it aimed at limiting and eradicating fake and misleading reviews.
(Adapted from Gov.uk)