According to the competition watchdog of the United Kingdom, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a pledge to crack down on the trade of fake and misleading reviews on their sites has been made by Facebook and eBay.
The CMA said that agreement aimed to better identify, investigate and respond to illegal reviews have been signed by both the online platforms.
Last summer, concerns about the abundance of fake and misleading reviews on the online platforms of the technology giants were expressed by the CMA following with 188 groups were removed and 24 accounts were shut down by Facebook while 140 users were banned by eBay.
Steps would be taken to block and prevent such contents from appearing in the future, both the companies have promised. The current filters that help to identify and block listings for the sale or trade of online reviews will be enhanced by eBay while a more robust system to detect and remove such content will be introduced by Facebook, both the companies have said in the agreement.
“Fake reviews are really damaging to shoppers and businesses alike,” said the CMA’s chief executive, Andrea Coscelli. “We’re pleased that Facebook and eBay are doing the right thing by committing to tackle this problem and helping to keep their sites free from posts selling fake reviews.”
According to statistics in the UK, while billions are spent by online shoppers every year on the basis of write-ups of products or services, online reviews are read before shopping online by more than three-quarters of consumers. This has potentially resulted in a booming market for fake products and therefore consumers must be vigilant, day experts.
While appearing to have been written by a real customer, a fake review is usually paid for by the manufacturer of a product or a trade dealing in the product with the aim of boosting ratings and rankings on sellers’ websites. That ultimately has the potential to increase sales of the products. In return for glowing reviews, companies give away goods or refund purchases in some cases. This is in violation of the consumer protection law.
“It’s good that Facebook and eBay have taken steps to improve after the regulator intervened but it is vital they continue to identify and shut down these groups, and put measures in place so that they are completely eradicated. The regulator must now turn its attention to review sites which are losing the battle against fake reviews – with shoppers duped into buying shoddy goods and services which have been artificially boosted by unscrupulous sellers,” said Natalie Hitchins from the consumer group Which? while welcoming the move.
How online shoppers are manipulated using fake reviews needs to be investigated by the CMA, Hitchins said, and added that the sites that fail to tackle this problem should face the strictest possible action.
“Fraudulent activity is not allowed on Facebook or Instagram, including offering or trading fake reviews. While we have invested heavily to prevent this kind of activity across our services, we know there is more work to do and are working with the CMA to address this issue,” a Facebook spokesperson told the media.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)