With every innovation comes those looking to exploit it through manipulation and fraud. Online reviews are no different and the unscrupulous go to great lengths to make money out of the sale and dissemination of fake reviews. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued warnings to Facebook and eBay to curb the sale of phoney reviews on their platforms.

This is something that we see regularly at NoCowboys but our robust monitoring system and platform of checks and balances prevents fake reviews from being posted.

This week the CMA said that it  “troubling evidence of a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews.” (Source: “Facebook and eBay told to tackle trade in fake reviews.” 21/6/19, www.techcrunch.com). The regulatory body searched through Facebook and eBay over an 8 month period and found over 100 listings on eBay offering fake reviews for sale and 26 Facebook groups “where people offered to write fake reviews or where businesses recruited people to write fake and misleading reviews on popular shopping and review sites.” (Source: “Facebook and eBay told to tackle trade in fake reviews.” 21/6/19, www.techcrunch.com).

Fake reviews are illegal in the UK and the CMA is active in attempting to curb their proliferation – after all, online reviews are a massive motivator for online consumers and trust is a vital element in their ongoing believability.

“Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with a product or service that’s not right for them. They’re also unfair to businesses who do the right thing.”

CMA’s chief executive officer, Andrea Coscelli, said: “We want Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review of their sites to prevent fake and misleading online reviews from being bought and sold.”

“Lots of us rely on reviews when shopping online to decide what to buy. It is important that people are able to trust that reviews are genuine, rather than something someone has been paid to write,” he added. “Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with a product or service that’s not right for them. They’re also unfair to businesses who do the right thing.” (Source: “Facebook and eBay told to tackle trade in fake reviews.” 21/6/19, www.techcrunch.com).

“Authenticated review sites that monitor email addresses, as well as repetitious text and other signifiers of fake reviews, can stop them being posted. Other sites do not.”

This also shows just how vital authenticated review sites, such as NoCowboys are to establish and continue consumer trust. Sites such as Google, eBay, and Facebook are so huge, with little recourse to question and challenge obviously fake reviews. In China, and India, for example, it is possible to obtain email addresses that last for only a few minutes, that scammers utilise to then post huge amounts of fraudulent testimonials. Authenticated review sites that monitor email addresses, as well as repetitious text and other signifiers of fake reviews, can stop them being posted. Other sites do not.

“It will take more pressure, as well as vigilance from regulatory agencies around the world to guarantee that only legitimate reviews will be posted.”

It is imperative that consumers believe that the reviews they rely on are true and that there are robust measures to ensure that they are. When over 90% of online consumers say that they read reviews before buying a product or engaging the services of a business, it shows what’s at stake, as well as the attraction for fraudsters to manipulate testimonials.

Apparently both Facebook and eBay have indicated that they will remove posts, groups and listings for the sale of fake reviews. It will take more pressure, as well as vigilance from regulatory agencies around the world to guarantee that only legitimate reviews will be posted.