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Amazon is being flooded by fake 5-star reviews

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  • A new report from consumer group Which? has uncovered thousands of unverified reviews of Amazon products listed online.
  • Which? looked at hundreds of tech products across 14 different categories. Many of these items had five-star ratings from unverified reviewers.
  • A Which? representative advised customers to take reviews with a “pinch of salt” in the future and urged Amazon to do more to verify ratings in order to maintain consumer trust.

Amazon is plagued by fake product reviews, according to a report by UK consumer group Which?.

Which? looked at hundreds of tech products listed on Amazon including headphones, smart watches, and fitness trackers and found that many of the top-rated products in each category, which were from seemingly “unknown” brands, had unverified reviews and five-star ratings.

Which? used its research on headphones as an example of this. All of the products that appeared on the first page of results were from “unknown” brands or brands that its tech experts had not encountered before.

Some 87% of the 12,000 reviews for these products were written by unverified reviewers and 71% of the headphones had five-star ratings, the report said.

Which? shared its research with ReviewMeta, an Amazon review checking site, which said it believed every one of the five-star reviews of the top 10 pairs of headphones to be “fake.”

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the Which? report, but told Business Insider that the firm invests “significant resources” to protect the integrity of reviews.

“Even one inauthentic review is one too many,” he said. “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.”

Amazon said it uses a combination of teams of investigators and automated technology to detect fake reviews. But Which? said it was not enough to fight the tide of misinformation.

“Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle against fake reviews – with shoppers bombarded by dubious comments aimed at artificially boosting products from unknown brands,” Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which? said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Read more: Amazon has an underground subculture that trades reviews for deals — and the company is finally cracking down

Hitchins advised customers to take reviews with a “pinch of salt” in the future and urged Amazon to do more to verify its product reviews in order to maintain consumer trust.

Having a high volume of customer reviews is important to sellers because it helps to improve conversion rates and bring their products higher up in Amazon’s search results.

According to Which?, 97% of shoppers in the UK rely on online customer reviews to make a purchase. The Competition and Markets Authority estimates that roughly $30 billion (£23 billion) a year of consumer spending is influenced by online reviews.

In 2018, Amazon started to take action to clamp down on fake reviews. This resulted in hundreds of Amazon shoppers in the US having their accounts shut down.

At the time, a company spokesperson told Business Insider that it had taken action “against bad actors” and those who violated its community rules.

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