Ecommerce giant is suing the administrators of over 10,000 Facebook groups for allegedly orchestrating fake reviews on its marketplace in exchange for money or free products.

A dedicated team investigating fake review schemes on social media sites — such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter — identified several Facebook groups recruiting individuals willing to post incentivised and misleading reviews.

These reviews would be published on Amazon’s stores in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

“The fraudsters behind such groups solicit fake reviews for hundreds of products available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods,” Amazon explained.

The company said that one of the groups identified in the lawsuit was “Amazon Product Review”, which had amassed over 43,000 members before Meta took down the group earlier this year.

“Amazon’s investigations revealed that the group’s administrators attempted to hide their activity and evade Facebook’s detection, in part by obfuscating letters from problematic phrases,” the company said.

Amazon said it would use information discovered in its legal action to identify bad actors and remove fake reviews commissioned by the alleged fraudsters that haven’t already been detected by its technology, investigators, and continuous monitoring.

Years-long battle

Amazon was one of the first online shopping platforms to support customer-sourced product reviews, initially launching the feature in 1995.

But the world’s biggest online store has been fighting to manage the high numbers of suspected fake product reviews off its store for years.

In 2020 alone, Amazon had to block over 200 million suspected fake reviews on its site.

The company employs more than 12,000 employees worldwide to help fend off fraud and abuse, including fake reviews.

“Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they’re ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media,” said Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services, Dharmesh Mehta.

“Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.”

However, the company said that stopping the business of brokering fake reviews remained an industry-wide problem and that civil litigation was only one part of solving it.

“Permanently ridding fake reviews across retail, travel, and other sectors will require greater public-private partnership, including collaboration between the affected companies, social media sites, and law enforcement, all focused on a goal of greater consumer protection,” the company said.

“Amazon remains eager to continue to partner with all the relevant stakeholders to achieve that mutual goal.”