The CMA has urged Facebook and eBay to act to prevent the sale of fake reviews through their sites.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found disturbing proof that there’s a thriving marketplace for fake and deceptive online reviews. After internet sweeps performed in the period November 2018 to June 2019, the CMA was involved regarding over 100 eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale. It also identified – throughout the same period – 26 Facebook groups in total where individuals offered to write down fake reviews or businesses recruited people to write fake and deceptive reviews on popular shopping and review sites.
It is estimated that over three-quarters of UK internet users think about online reviews once selecting what to shop for. Billions of pounds of people’s spending are influenced by reviews every year. Fake and deceptive reviews not only causepeople making poorly informed decisions and buying the incorrect products, however they’re also illegal under consumer protection law.
The CMA isn’t alleging that Facebook or eBay are intentionally permitting this content to appear on their websites. Since the CMA wrote to the sites, both have indicated that they’ll cooperate and Facebook has informed the CMA that most of the 26 groups have been removed. The CMA welcomes this, and expects the sites to put measures in place to make sure that all the identified content is removed and to prevent it from reappearing.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief executive said:
Lots of us believe reviews when shopping online to make your mind up what to shop for. It’s vital that people are able to trust that reviews are real, instead of something someone has been paid to write down.
Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong selection and end up with a product or service that’s not right for them. They’re also unfair to businesses that do the right thing.
We want Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review of their sites to stop fake and deceptive online reviews from being bought and sold.
This is the first phase in a wider program of CMA work aimed at tackling fake and deceptive reviews. It builds on previous action in this space to protect shoppers from deceptive information on the internet, as well as enforcement action taken against an online marketing company to prevent it from writing fake reviews and demand it removed those it had posted.