UK investigates Amazon, Google for fake reviews

After opening cases against Facebook and Google, the British competition regulator is now tackling another big tech company. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new survey of Amazon and Google to assess whether they are protecting buyers from fake reviews. This decision follows the opening by the CMA of an investigation last May which raised concerns about the treatment by companies of false or misleading reviews on their respective sites.

At the time, the regulator did not specify which sites it was investigating. Instead, he said he was looking into issues, including suspicious behavior, such as a single user posting multiple reviews for an unlikely range of products or services. The CMA also looked at whether companies combined product reviews for the purpose of manipulating their rankings and how sites were handling the shady practice of paying for reviews. This type of behavior is illegal under UK Consumer Protection Act, with the CMA responsible for enforcing the rules.

Amazon and Google respectively wield enormous power over e-commerce and online search. Amazon’s annual net sales rose 38% to $ 386 billion last year as people began to shop online during the pandemic. While Google significantly revamped its Shopping functionality in 2019 with new additions including price tracking and visual search. He followed this up by recently making his Shopping search listings primarily free for merchants.

But, Big Tech’s two rivals have also faced regulatory backlash over their alleged abuse of power. In an antitrust ruling, the EU handed Google a 2.7 billion dollars in fines in 2017 for highlighting its own shopping comparison service in the results while downgrading its competitors. EU regulators are also probing Amazon’s use of third-party seller data to boost its own products.

As part of a historical case In 2019, the United States Federal Trade Commission successfully obtained a settlement from Cure Encapsulations, Inc. on its payments to a third-party website to write five-star Amazon reviews for a weight loss supplement.

There is also a precedent in the UK for this type of bogus review which could point to the outcome for Google and Amazon. The CMA before pushed eBay, Facebook and its Instagram affiliate to crack down on fraudulent reviews after finding they were prone to it. As a result, all three companies have agreed to remove the identified content, along with additional fake reviews, and to implement new safeguards. Under further pressure from the CMA, Facebook eventually removed more than 16,000 groups who were exchanging false reviews.

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