Amazon has filed lawsuits against individuals who allegedly offered fake five-star reviews for products. The company has found many advertised gigs on Fiverr which ask for suggested wording from sellers and use multiple accounts and IP address to avoid being caught by Amazon's systems. Some extreme cases even arranged deliveries of empty boxes in order to appear to have bought the products being reviewed, according to Amazon.
Fiverr, online marketplace where users advertise gigs and services for only $5.00 (£3.24), which specializes in freelance services in design, writing, editing, programming and translation, has now become a resource for online sellers to buy fake reviews for their products.
Amazon wants sites like Fiverr to be more stringent on job listings labelled "product reviews". They also want individuals to realize that Amazon can sue them as individuals, and not the websites.
"Although Amazon has successfully requested removal of similar listings from Fiverr in the past, the removal of individual listings does not address the root cause of the issue or serve as a sufficient deterrent to the bad actors engaged in creating and purchasing fraudulent product reviews," according to court papers.
Customer reviews have become the foundation of trust in the online shopping world. It's become extremely important for users to know what a product is like before they buy them, so ratings and reviews can influence the success of a product.
Amazon started using an in-house artificial intelligence system to detect fake product reviews and inflated star ratings this past June. This will put more weight on verified product reviews, as well as reviews marked as helpful for overall product ratings, because star ratings were previously an average of all reviews.
Fake reviews are not just a problem for online retailers like Amazon. TripAdvisor and other travel sites such as Expedia and AirBnb are also heavily affected by the practice.
"We have a whole team dedicated to the problem of fake reviews," James Kay from TripAdvisor UK told the Guardian. "We use both automated systems and a dedicated team to review reviews and weed out fake entries."