In its latest attempt to limit the proliferation of misleading product reviews, Amazon has filed lawsuits against two companies, the retail giant announced Tuesday. The so-called "fake review brokers" allegedly tried to mislead consumers by posting false reviews on online stores like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Etsy in exchange for money or free products.
The e-commerce giant's legal actions come after an in-depth investigation into these review brokers, AppSally and Rebatest, revealed that both companies combined claim to have more than 900,000 members willing to write fake reviews, Amazon said.
"Fake review brokers attempt to profit by deceiving unknowing consumers and creating an unfair competitive advantage that harms our selling partners," said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon's vice president of worldwide customer trust and partner support, in a news release.
This isn't the first time Amazon has sued a company for allegedly posting fake reviews. In 2021, two major fake review sites in Germany and the UK were closed down following "successful legal action by Amazon in those countries," Amazon said.
Amazon uses a combination of machine learning technology and expert investigators to identify and remove misleading reviews from its site. In 2020 alone, Amazon said, the company spent $700 million and employed more than 10,000 people to combat efforts to mislead consumers on its marketplace, stopping "more than 200 million suspected fake reviews before they were ever seen by a customer."
The company has long acknowledged that it has a fake reviews problem and that it has struggled to rein in coordinated efforts on other websites to inundate product listings with positive reviews in quid pro quo schemes that violate the company's terms of service.
Last year, after CNET published a story about howin exchange for a refund, the Facebook group was closed down and the reviews its users posted on Amazon were pulled from Amazon's online marketplace.
AppSally and Rebatest didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.