Facebook and Twitter have been accused of failing to tackle an online industry of fake product reviews, exposing new research schemes on platforms with hundreds of thousands of members.
Which an investigation by consumer group? A massive community was found online where people were offered free stuff in exchange for leaving five-star reviews for products on sites like Amazon.
Who? said that between June and November 2021 it found 18 Facebook groups with more than 200,000 members collectively participating in this fraudulent activity.
A separate investigation on Twitter in October 2021 found 30 “review agents” who sent more than 50,000 product listings to whom? Researchers, where people will be refunded for their item purchases if they leave a five-star review, earn a commission for each positive review agents receive.
It said the new research was particularly disappointing because Facebook had previously committed to tackling the problem, and called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to further challenge the firm on the issue, and launch an investigation into Twitter’s approach. considered doing.
The consumer group’s director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha, said the two platforms had “failed to adequately deal with fake review factories”, which was “making it easier for unscrupulous firms and fake review agents to evade weak checks”.
“This risks seriously undermining consumer confidence in online reviews,” she said.
“Facebook must prove that it is taking effective action and has made repeated commitments to the regulator to crack down on the fake review trade. The CMA should also consider Twitter’s investigation into the issue.
“The government plans to tackle fake reviews as part of its consumer and competition reforms and should introduce new laws to eliminate these exploitative practices as soon as possible.”
Who? It also raised questions about the effectiveness of detection measures to deter such clusters, given that review agents often use easily understandable messages – such as “Ne3d R3vi3w Complete Fr33 Product” – to evade detection. in an effort.
It was also noted that the warning messages on Facebook that popped up to tell the researchers that the term they searched for was associated with fraudulent activity could easily have been dismissed to continue the search.
In response to the investigation, a spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company Meta said: “Fraudulent and deceptive activity is not permitted on our platform, including offering or trading fake reviews.
“We have actively removed several groups identified by whom? This was before they contacted us, and we promptly removed additional groups that violated our policies.
“We are working closely with CMA to tackle this across all of our platforms – and which ones? Research confirms those measures have been effective. In the past year, we have removed more than 16,000 groups that are fake and Were trading in deceptive reviews.
“While no enforcement is perfect, we continue to invest in new technologies and methods to protect our users from such content.”
Twitter said it does not allow “spam or other forms of platform manipulation” and has suspended all referenced accounts for violating Twitter’s rules.
On fake review groups online, an Amazon spokesperson said that when such groups are detected, it reports them to the site to be removed.
“This industry of fake review brokers needs to stop now. Only when regulators, law enforcement, social media sites and retailers work together, these fraudsters will be stopped,” the spokesperson said.
“We advise customers who doubt the credibility of a review on a product, to click on the ‘Report Abuse’ link available at the bottom of each review. We will then investigate and take necessary action.”
The CMA said that “fake and misleading reviews impair the ability of buyers to make informed choices” and that it “raised which one?” with Facebook. The latest findings are “to ensure it is honoring its commitments”.
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