Many of the popular items sold on Amazon have been boosted by “fake” five-star ratings, according to researchers, who are conducting an investigation into the company’s customer review system. The researchers say they have discovered thousands of “inauthentic” positive reviews being posted, despite there being no evidence that the so-called customers have ever purchased or used the reviewed product.
A new investigation being conducted by the consumer group called “Which?” is alleging that Amazon’s customer review system is being undermined by inauthentic or “fake” five-star ratings for unfamiliar brands, according to a report by The Guardian.
Researchers are claiming that many top-rated items on Amazon were from brands — such as Itshiny, Vogek, and Aitalk — that had thousands of “unverified reviews,” meaning that there was no evidence supporting the notion that the supposed “customers” had ever purchased or used the items for which they were leaving positive reviews.
The report noted that another indicator suggesting fake positive reviews is when a high number of five-star ratings are posted in a short time period. One item, for example, included a set of headphones by the brand “Celebrat,” which had a total of 439 reviews, all of them positive, unverified, and posted on the same day.
Which? researchers had also mentioned that they found similar results while examining the reviews for smartwatches, discovering that the “top four” items on Amazon had “unverified reviews” making up 99 percent of their ratings.
“Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle against fake reviews, with shoppers bombarded by comments aimed at artificially boosting products from unknown brands,” said Which?’s head of home products, Natalie Hitchins.
“Amazon must do more to purge its websites of unreliable and fake reviews if it is to maintain the trust of its millions of customers,” continued Hitchins, adding that customers “should always take reviews with a pinch of salt and look to independent and trustworthy sources when researching a purchase,” to avoid potentially being misled about a product.
“[We] invest significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers,” said Amazon in a statement, according to The Guardian, “We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”