As online shopping has widened our choices, it has also multiplied our sources of information. But much of this new information is misleading, making it harder and harder to know who to trust.
Fake reviews deliberately manipulate your choices, obscuring the real facts about a product or service you’re buying. And our initial investigations suggest they may becoming rampant.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) estimates that a staggering £23bn a year of UK consumer spending is now influenced by online customer reviews.
And investigating just a small selection of popular products on Amazon, we discovered thousands of fake five star reviews.
From smartwatches to headphones, dash cams to USB chargers, top-selling products on the site were flooded with fake reviews.
So the scale of this may be huge.
These fraudulent endorsements cost you time and money. They can also mislead you about the quality and safety of the products you’re buying.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Lies for sale
Sites like Facebook and Ebay have been allowing fraudsters to blatantly advertise their fake review writing services.
How deep this marketplace in fake reviews goes is not yet clear, but initial investigations found hundreds Ebay listings for writing fake reviews and dozens of Facebook groups where fake reviewers advertised their services.
This shocking industry in fake reviews needs to be stamped out before it can grow any further.
Make them act
The thing about fake reviews is that they look just like the real ones. And like fake news, it can be impossible to tell them from the real thing.
You shouldn’t be burdened with verifying a fact from a fake when you buy online. That’s why we’re demanding:
- Shopping sites build systems to prevent fake reviews from being posted and detect and remove fake reviews that do appear.
- Sites clearly mark reviews as “sponsored” or “paid for” when they are promotional.
- Sites do not suppress negative, genuine reviews.
- Social media platforms ban groups that promote fake review writing.
Companies like Amazon, Ebay and Facebook have a responsibility to their customers to ensure information on their sites is accurate and verified – and that fake reviewers can’t operate on them.
That’s why we’re demanding big online retailers and social media giants stamp out fake reviews and fake reviewers.
Will you join us? Sign the petition.