The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has urged both Facebook and eBay to act on the sale of fake reviews through their platforms, following our investigations over the past year.
‘Troubling evidence’ of a thriving marketplace for fake online reviews was found between November 2018 and June 2019, including a number of Facebook groups where people offered to write fake reviews, and eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale.
The move follows a series of investigations by Which? over the past year to highlight the source and scale of fake reviews, and the problems they cause for online shoppers.
The CMA conducted ‘web sweeps’ (where a computer program automatically trawl websites looking for paid fake reviews) over a seven-month period and found 100 eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale. The same web sweeps also identified 26 Facebook groups where people offered to write fake reviews for companies, or where companies recruited people to write fake reviews.
Since the CMA wrote to the sites, both have told the regulator that they will co-operate. Facebook has also informed the CMA that most of the 26 groups have been removed.
The CMA has welcomed this response, and is not alleging that Facebook or eBay are intentionally allowing this content to appear on their websites. However, going forward, it expects the sites to put measures in place to ensure that all the identified content is removed and to stop it from reappearing.