Amazon has decided to take legal action against 1,114 people it says have posted fake reviews on the stores website. A lawsuit has already been filed in Seattle, Washington. It was filed last Friday.
Only last April, Amazon had sued several websites for selling fake reviews.
The defendants are collectively labeled as “John Does”, as their identities are not known. They sell their services for as little as $5 on Fiverr. Interestingly, Amazon has not gone after Fiverr itself, though it would have been easier to target them, as Fiverr has clearly allowed the sellers to offer illegal or fraudulent services on its site, which contradicts its own terms of service. The John Does promise five-star reviews for a seller’s products in exchange for money. Fiverr.com gets $1 from each $5 transaction.
Fiverr has said in a statement that it was working with Amazon to resolve the issue.
“These reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand”, Amazon said in its complaint at the court. The retail giant says that these paid reviews are “false, misleading and inauthentic”.
Amazon removes what it believes to be fake reviews routinely, but says that it fails to tackle the “root cause” or provide a strong enough deterrent against posting them. Now with this lawsuit, the store hopes to end this once and for all.
Amazon is particularly sensitive to fake reviews, as it has been plagued by them for years. The New York Times posted a particularly stinging account of fake book reviewers in 2012 and Forbes piled in, going so far as to describe it as “Amazon’s rotten core”.
According to User Interface Engineering, the review system that has been on the site since the first day brings $2,700,000,000 of new revenue for Amazon each year.