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Amazon to crack down on incentivized reviews

Internet retailer bans almost all reviews that are posted in exchange for free or discounted products.

PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon reviews may become more trustworthy after the internet retail giant announced Monday that customers will see fewer incentivized reviews -- ones that are posted in exchange for free or discounted products.

Under Amazon's updated community guidelines, customers are now prohibited from "creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else."

Amazon has a big interest in making sure its millions of customers trust its 5-star reviews system, especially because these reviews let buyers know how good or crummy products are before making purchases online. It has been taking additional steps to crack down on fraudulent or questionable reviews that could jeopardize customers' trust of its reviews system, suing several individuals and businesses to shut down fake reviews services.

"These so-called 'incentivized reviews' make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products," Chee Chew, vice president of customer experience at Amazon, wrote in a blog post.

The only exceptions to the new rule are book reviews and reviews created through Amazon's Vine program, which invites trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and prerelease products.