Amazon sues 10,000 Facebook group admins as it cracks down on fake reviews

Amazon strictly prohibits fake reviews and has more than 12,000 employees around the world dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews. Credit: PA

Amazon is suing more than 10,000 Facebook groups administrators over fake reviews the e-commerce giant says were written in exchange for money or free products.

Facebook groups were set up to recruit people “willing to post incentivised and misleading reviews” across its stores in the US the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan, Amazon said.

Those behind such groups solicit fake reviews for hundreds of products available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods, the company said.

Amazon said one of the Facebook groups it is targeting, called “Amazon Product Review,” had more than 43,000 members.

The group was removed this year by the social media company, Amazon said, but it was able to dodge the platform’s detection by “changing letters in phrases that might set off Facebook’s alarms”.

Amazon has more than 12,000 employees around the world dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews.

Amazon said it has reported more than 10,000 fake review groups to Meta, the parent company of Facebook, since 2020. Meta has removed half of these groups and is investigating the others, Amazon said.

One of the Facebook groups it is targeting, called Amazon Product Review, had more than 43,000 members Credit: PA

Amazon was a pioneer of product reviews, having introduced them in 1995 to help customers make more informed shopping decisions. The company claims it has stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 alone.

This is not the first time Amazon has tackled fake reviews and has previously sued people it said were giving fake testimonials, though regulators have questioned whether the company was doing enough to combat the issue.

In a statement, Meta added: “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.”

Last year, the UK competition's watchdog launched a probe into Amazon and Google over fake and misleading reviews.

The Competition and Markets Authority opened a formal investigation into whether the two tech giants have done enough to crack down on the practice. It questioned whether the two are doing enough to investigate and promptly remove fake and misleading reviews from their platforms, and impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses engaged in the practice.

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Amazon's lawsuit against the social media giant comes as the parents of Nora Quoirin, a French-Irish schoolgirl from London whose body was found near a Malaysian jungle resort during a family holiday, settled a case over posts made on Facebook in 2019 and 2020.

Counsel for the social media giant – trading as Meta – said in a statement: “During what was a distressing time for the Quoirin family in the course of Nora’s disappearance and in the aftermath of her subsequent discovery, a Facebook user posted a series of allegations that were disturbing and offensive to Nora’s parents on the Facebook platform.

“Meta Platforms Ireland Limited appreciates that the user’s allegations were distressing to the Quoirin family and takes this opportunity to express its sympathy for the distress and trauma arising from that user’s allegations.

“Meta Platforms Ireland Limited will continue its efforts in preventing the misuse of its platform and ensuring the safety of its users.”