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Why we’ve had enough of fake reviews

Spotted a review that doesn’t look quite right? Does that product’s five-star rating just not stack up? Sign our petition to put a stop to fake reviews.

Earlier this year, we found sellers on online marketplaces and platforms confusing people by posting fake reviews to distort opinion about products and spread misinformation.

Despite telling marketplaces and platforms that there was a problem, it shows no signs of slowing down.

Well, we’ve had enough. Today, we’ve set up a petition calling for action on fake reviews.

We’ve found through several investigations that sellers on online marketplaces such as Amazon are able cheat the system by overloading product listings with fake reviews.

This is the latest in a series of investigations that we have ongoing to uncover the scale of the problem.

The impact on spending

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) estimated that in 2015, around £23 billion of spending was the result of people reading reviews.

With the explosive growth of e-commerce in the last 4 years, it’s now estimated that figure is around £38 billion.

From our analysis and research, of those who believe they received a product of an inferior quality than they were expecting, the spend impacted by fake reviews is around £1.5 billion.

That is a huge amount of consumer spending that is hanging on information that might not be true, genuine or is at the very least outright distorted to present a false impression.

Taking action

Thankfully, the regulator has recognised that there is a problem, too. The CMA recently launched a programme of work aimed at tackling fake and misleading reviews.

As a first step, they told Facebook and eBay to cut them off at the source and remove groups and listings that were encouraging the sale and trade of fake reviews.

Facebook told us it had removed the groups we reported to it, while Amazon said that it invests significant resources to protect the integrity of its reviews.

We think more needs to be done. Online platforms know that this is a problem, but they’re not taking enough proactive steps to ensure that consumers are accessing relevant, correct information about the products they are viewing on their platforms.

We’ve been working undercover for the last year, finding out about what’s happening and how sellers are managing to post these reviews.

A lot of people don’t know that fake reviews exist – these are the people who are most at risk

We want you to join us and support the first steps of our work to stamp out fake reviews.

Have you ever been asked to write a fake review? How many do you think you’ve spotted? Let us know, and support our campaign.

Comments
SHEILA TUDOR says:
16 February 2020

Aways dodgy when you see 2st review of a newly opened restaurant or when there is a negative review followed by a wonderful one from a first time reviewer.

MR Sam Okyere says:
27 March 2020

The biggest give away, always look for reviews where the writer has given at least 10 reviews. So many of the 5 star reviews, it is the writer’s only review. Also always rule of the extreme’s 5 stars and 1 stars. Everyone can have a bad experience, issue with a meal at the restaurant, double booking. Equally with a product, don’t review it for at least a month. You write down how amazing your shiny phone or item is. Then it breaks down, but it is too late to share your up to date experiences with us to prevent us from falling into the same trap. Finally I look at the % of ratings across the ratings. You expect to see a high amount in the “4” or “5” star, with a few disgruntled comments in the “1” star. I tend to read the a broad selection to see if the issue is a reoccurring one, ie loud music, poor seats, friendly staff.