Amazon’s Open Secret – The New York Times

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This week, Amazon acknowledged the reality: it has a problem with fake reviews.

The problem is that Amazon sharp blame in almost everyone involved in untrustworthy ratings, and not enough in the company itself. Amazon criticized Facebook, but it failed to acknowledge that the two companies share an underlying problem that risks eroding people’s trust in their services: an inability to effectively control their sprawling websites.

Learning from the masses is a failed promise of the digital age. It can be wonderful to evaluate the reviews of others before purchasing a product, booking a hotel, or seeing a doctor. But it is so common and lucrative for companies and services of to pay for or otherwise manipulate notes on all kinds of websites everything we see is hard to trust.

The persistence of fake reviews raises two big questions for Amazon: How much attention does it really devote to stopping fake customer reviews? And would buyers be better off if Amazon reassessed its essence as an online bazaar (almost) anything goes?

from amazon rules ban companies from offering people money or other incentives for reviews. Amazon says it catches most of the bogus reviews and works to stay ahead of rule breakers. Yet the global notice fraud industry actively works on Amazon and everyone knows it.

Amazon appears to have been pushed by the Federal Trade Commission, according to Vox’s Recode publication, and by journalists to take action to crack down on manipulated ratings.

According to a columnist for the Wall Street Journal wrote this week about buying a RAVPower electric charger along with a postcard offering a $ 35 gift card in exchange for a review, the seller mentionned Thursday that he had been banned from Amazon. (The statement is in Chinese, and I read it through Google Translate.) This followed the ban of several other big sellers who appeared to have bought reviews for years.

If government lawyers and newspaper columnists spot salespeople openly manipulating reviews, how well is the company looking for them?

Maybe you think this is how the world works: Caveat emptor. When I read product reviews on Amazon or doctors on Zocdoc, the reviews are helpful but I take it with a grain of salt.

But unfortunately, a lot of people are hurt by fake reviews, and they aren’t always easy for us to spot. The Washington Post recently wrote about a family duped by bought Google reviews for alcohol addiction treatment center. I wrote about research last year that found Amazon grabs a lot of bought reviews, but only months later and after buyers showed signs of feeling misled into purchasing a product.

I wish Amazon would take more responsibility for the issue. In its statement this week, the company blamed social media companies and poor enforcement by regulators for false reviews. Amazon is right. Fraudulent online reviews are big business with many enablers. Facebook and the WeChat app in China don’t do enough about forums where companies coordinate the handling of reviews.

But Amazon hasn’t said much about what it could do differently. For example, researchers at the University of California with whom I spoke last fall found that purchase notices were much more common among Chinese sellers and for products where many sellers were selling a product almost identical. Maybe that means Amazon should monitor China-based sellers more closely? Or that it would be useful to limit the number of sellers who list the same bathroom cart?

Positive reviews also help sellers appear prominently when we search for products on Amazon, which creates a huge financial incentive to cheat. Should Amazon reconsider how it counts ratings in search results? The company didn’t say anything.

Above all, it’s disappointing that Amazon doesn’t recognize that fake reviews are the result of its choice to go for quantity over quality.

People can buy almost anything on Amazon and from almost any seller. This can be great for buyers, but it delivered with compromise. Being a store of everything – and one that tries to operate with as little human intervention as possible – it’s harder for Amazon to root out. counterfeit or dangerous products and purchased reviews.


  • No more “speed filter”. NPR reports that Snapchat will phase out an app feature that allows people to record and share how fast they drive. Road safety advocates say the feature has for years encouraged young people to drive recklessly to gain bragging rights.

  • Use WhatsApp to Bust Myths: During the pandemic, rural India government health workers used WhatsApp to counter disinformation about the virus, The Verge reports. It takes a long time for health workers to verify information on the app, but online messages as well as in-person conversations seem to protect many people.

  • WATCH THE GIANT RABBIT: My colleague Amanda Hess has spoken to people who post videos online of their many exotic animals. The doghouse called Pet Tube responds to our love for visual gags like a bunch of snakes sliding across a piano, but these people also love animals – “even potentially revolting animal swarms,” ​​Amanda wrote.

A baby seal tests the water. The little one goes from uncertainty to joy in a flash.

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