Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced the initiation of a formal investigation against Amazon and Google today for not doing enough to prevent and remove fake reviews from their platforms.
As part of the investigation, the regulator is also working to gather evidence to see if the two firms may have broken consumer law by not taking sufficient measures to protects shoppers.
The regulator is particularly concerned with Amazon’s inadequate efforts to prevent and deter sellers from manipulating product listings, for example, by co-opting positive reviews from other products.
“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” the CMA’s Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said in a statement.
“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”
If CMA concludes that the two companies have broken the law, they will be subject to various enforcement actions, ranging from formally committing to preventing and removing fake reviews to changing how they manage fake reviews. CMA can also escalate the matter to court action.
Both Google and Amazon issued statements offering assistance to CMA in its investigation.
CMA’s latest move comes after an initial 2020 investigation, which assessed several online platforms’ internal systems and processes for identifying and dealing with fake reviews. The investigation prompted major players such as Facebook, Instagram and eBay to remove groups and ban individuals from buying and selling fake reviews on their respective platforms.