Reviews on Amazon marketplace have a reputation for not being reliable, so much so that tools like browser extension Fakespot work solely to suss out fake reviews. Now, Amazon Inc. (AMZN) is working to eradicate the issue, this time with a lawsuit against thousands of Facebook group administrators.
Amazon has filed a lawsuit against administrators of Facebook groups facilitating the buying and selling of fake Amazon reviews. The move comes months after the e-commerce giant sued two alleged fake review broker companies.
Amazon sues Facebook group administrators in the thousands — fake reviews at the core
On July 19, Amazon sued “more than 10,000 Facebook groups that attempt to orchestrate fake reviews on Amazon in exchange for money or free products,” the company wrote in a press release.
The company says these Facebook groups operate on the premise of brokering fake reviews for third-party Amazon sellers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan.
What Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services Dharmesh Mehta calls “proactive legal action” actually comes years after the fake Amazon review problem got out of hand. Amazon’s “advanced technology, expert investigators, and continuous monitoring” still aren't enough to eradicate the problem.
Meta's Facebook removed a group called “Amazon Product Review” earlier this year. Before shutting down, the group boasted more than 43,000 members.
While Amazon has sued the administrators of the groups, the company doesn't know their identities. Amazon hopes that the lawsuit process will lead them to the identities.
The latest lawsuit comes months after Amazon sued AppSally and Rebatest.
In February, Amazon sued two fake review companies, AppSally and Rebatest. Amazon alleges that both of these companies broker fake reviews in exchange for payment or free products. In both cases, Amazon is seeking unspecified damages.
Mehta said in a press release at the time, “Fake review brokers attempt to profit by deceiving unknowing consumers and creating an unfair competitive advantage that harms our selling partners.” Amazon says AppSally and Rebatest combined have “more than 900,000 members willing to write fake reviews.”
Amazon filed the lawsuit in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, but the involved parties and the court haven't reached a conclusion yet. However, Amazon has had success suing companies for similar reasons in the past. In late 2021, Amazon sued two fake review brokers in Germany and the U.K. Those companies ultimately shuttered.
Interestingly, Amazon’s focus on market manipulation echoes a sentiment that has been sung about the company itself. In May 2021, Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine accused Amazon of anticompetitive practices. Racine went even further by targeting Amazon’s most favored nation (MFN) agreements, which prevent third-party sellers from reducing their off-Amazon prices. Racine wrote in a press release that Amazon “maximizes its profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation, and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor.”
Both of these alleged market manipulations impact consumers — and while Amazon’s price factor doesn’t absolve the players in a fake review market, it does highlight a lack of transparency on behalf of the corporation.