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Consumers Struggle to Successfully Navigate Online Shopping as Fake Reviews Grow Form

With the escalation of online shopping due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, consumers are increasingly frustrated by the proliferation of inaccurate product reviews. Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and other online retailers have experienced an overwhelming number of inaccurate product reviews. Consumers often rely on these reviews to make informed purchase choices. Amazon has identified their best sellers as "Amazon's Choice." When uncertain with a brand or product category, these types of signals, that indicate product success, can greatly influence purchase behavior. A University of California, Los Angeles and University of Southern California study found more than 20 fake review-related Facebook groups with an average of 16,000 members who provided financial incentives for positive, fake reviews. With over 500 postings each day, sellers offered around $6.00 for each positive review.

These fabricated and paid reviews have two potential negative consequences: 1.) they boost the sales of unsafe or counterfeit products and/or 2.) they hurt the business of legitimate sellers. Amazon does not share how these products are ultimately selected, but indicates that they are highly rated, well-priced competitors. In late 2019, Nike made the decision to stop selling its shoes and clothing directly to Amazon due, in part, to fake reviews.

Amazon defends their attempts to manage their massive marketplace stating that they have "powerful machine learning tools and skilled investigators to analyze over 10 million review submissions weekly, aiming to stop abusive reviews before they are ever published." However, a U.K. investigation resulted in over 20,000 fraudulent reviews from top Amazon reviewers being removed.


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