Amazon sues operators of 10,000 Facebook groups over fake review schemes

Amazon’s long-running campaign against fake reviews just had some success. TechCrunch reports that Amazon has sued the admins of more than 10,000 Facebook groups for trying to coordinate fake reviews in exchange for free products or money. The group operators tried to recruit employees in the USA, Great Britain, four European countries and Japan. One of the larger examples, Amazon Product Review, attempted to avoid detection by “obfuscating” letters in sentences used to detect such activity. Meta pulled the 43,000 members earlier this year.

The lawsuit comes after about two years of uncovering fraudulent Facebook groups. Amazon said it would use information obtained during the discovery process to identify the perpetrators and pull fake reviews from those communities.

Amazon has been suing peddlers of fake reviews since 2015 and has ramped up its efforts in recent years. The online shopping giant reported over 1,000 paid review groups to social media in the first quarter of 2021, triple the volume it reported a year earlier. However, the company argued that reports and lawsuits were not enough to stop fake reviews. She believed a more permanent solution would involve a stronger “public-private partnership” between online stores, social networks and law enforcement agencies.

Whether Amazon can sensibly deter fake reviews is another matter. This latest bust underscores the magnitude of the problem — it’s easy to create a social media group that goes undetected long enough to cause significant damage. Certainly unconvinced that Amazon is doing enough, UK regulators have launched an investigation into the company’s handling of fake review content. Amazon is fighting a battle that could be difficult to win under ideal circumstances, and it’s not clear if the company’s existing strategy is effective.

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