Following a recent story from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon has removed RavPower and RavPower products from its online store in a renewed effort to crack down on fake reviews.
While fake reviews have long been a problem for a number of big online retailers, the issue has started to get even worse. And after RavPower offered WSJ reporter Nicole Nguyen a $US35 ($45) gift card after purchasing one of the company’s fast chargers in exchange for a user review, Amazon removed RavPower from its store, a decision that was later confirmed by The Verge.
The move to delist RavPower follows similar actions by Amazon to remove other companies including Aukey, Mpow, and others, who have also been suspected of offering discounts or gift cards in exchange for reviews (also known as incentivized reviews), a practice Amazon explicitly banned in an update to its community guidelines back in 2016.
And while Amazon claims fake or incentivized reviews only make up a very small percentage of user reviews on its store, following the recent events, yesterday Amazon published a new update detailing a renewed effort to eliminate bogus reviews.
Amazon says that in recent years it has implemented new techniques and methods of preventing or removing fake/incentivized reviews, which use both machine learning and “expert human investigators to proactively prevent fake reviews from ever being seen in our store.” Amazon claims to have stopped “more than 200 million suspected fake reviews before they were ever seen by a customer” in 2020.
However, Amazon also admits it has seen a rise in the number of sources attempting to solicit fake reviews — especially from social media — which has prompted the company to step up its efforts to police user reviews and even remove vendors completely in extreme cases following multiple infractions.
Amazon says it reported more than 1,000 groups of bad actors to various social media services in just the first three months of 2021, but it seems the company doesn’t have an all-encompassing solution to combatting fake reviews just yet. The company called for help from social media services and “coordinated assistance from consumer protection regulators around the world.”
Outside of Amazon’s efforts, there are other steps you can take to see past the confusion. Websites like Fakespot have created their own AI and algorithms (and even browser extensions) to detect bogus reviews in real time. And if a vendor ever offers you a gift in exchange for a user review, you should report it immediately.
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