Facebook and eBay have pledged to crack down on the trade of fake and misleading reviews on their sites. Specifically, the two Internet firms will crack down on dubious individuals and groups who offer to write fake reviews for a fee, and sell these services via eBay, Instagram, and Facebook.
This comes after the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) highlighted its concerns. In response, Facebook has already removed 188 groups and disabled 24 user accounts, and eBay has permanently banned 140 users.
Both organisations have also pledged to put measures in place that will help prevent this type of content from appearing in the future. As part of this, Facebook has agreed to introduce more robust systems to detect and remove such content. eBay has improved its existing filters to better identify and block listings for the sale or trade of online reviews.
The CMA said in a statement, “More than three-quarters of people are influenced by reviews when they shop online, and billions of pounds are spent every year based on write-ups of products or services. Fake and misleading reviews are illegal under consumer protection law. Websites have a responsibility to ensure that this unlawful and harmful content isn’t advertised or sold through their platforms.”
A fake review will appear to have been written by a genuine customer but, unlike a real review, it is paid for by the manufacturer or trader to boost ratings and rankings on sellers’ websites, which in turn boosts sales. In some cases, companies give away goods or refund purchases in return for glowing reviews, practices that are are illegal under consumer protection law.