Amazon revealed it has filed suit against a pair of services that “orchestrate the posting of incentivized and misleading product reviews, in exchange for money or free products.”
The duo in question, AppSally and Rebatest, allegedly provide their services for product listings on Amazon.com, as well as on eBay, Walmart, and Etsy listings.
The online retailer made it clear that the goal of its suit is to “shut down two major fake review brokers.”
Dharmesh Mehta, VP of WW Customer Trust & Partner Support, at Amazon noted that his company prevents “millions of suspicious reviews from ever appearing,” but it still filed these lawsuits as a way to “target the source.”
Amazon currently uses a combination of its machine learning technology and human investigators to track and remove false reviews. The site claims to have taken down more than 200 million in 2020 alone, all before they “were ever seen by a customer.”
Despite the number of takedowns, the fake review industry still appeared to be thriving as of 2021, when a data lake revealed the personal info of more than 200,000 individuals that appeared to be involved in posting fake reviews.
AppSally and Rebatest, according to Amazon, advertise a combined stable of more than 900,000 members ready to produce fake reviews for products of the commissioner’s choice.
The retail site noted the complexity of the services supposedly being offered by these companies, including a scheme in which AppSally has commissioners ship empty boxes to fake reviewers to increase the appearance of legitimacy and Rebatest only paying the providers of fake five-star reviews when those ratings are approved by “the bad actors attempting to sell those items.”
Fighting against “bad actors” of every kind has increased in recent years, with Amazon revealing that it seized and destroyed approximately 2 million fake products sent to its warehouses in 2020.
Amazon noted it has won “dozens of injunctions against fake review brokers,” and touted its recent achievement of having a pair of “major fake review sites in Germany and the UK” closed down through successful legal action.
In addition to its ongoing legal crusade against fake reviews, Amazon also revealed that it filed over 16,000 reports with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during 2021, all aimed at exposing the activities of fake review purveyors to those social networks. It claims its efforts resulted in groups with over 11 million members being taken down from those sites.
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