The Internet has been described as the new “word of mouth,” particularly with the advent of online reviews. You can see in real time just what other people thank about a business’s services or products, positive or negative. So if someone is providing false information in an online review, it should be treated with the same severity of slander or libel.
That’s how Amazon feels, anyway. The company recently announced that it filed a lawsuit against more than 1,000 unidentified people selling fake reviews on its website. Amazon asserted that fake reviews – positive or negative – undermine the company’s goal of making sure that customers have the information they need to shop on the web store.
I tend to agree. People who post fake reviews that are intentionally negative are trolling, but people who are paid to post positive reviews look terrible for the company buying them. It signals that not only do you not trust your customers to review your product well, but you don’t trust your own product.
The Internet is no different than any aspect of your business. You should be conducting yourself in a professional, honest and ethical manner. Online reviews are an important marketing tool for your business, but not if they aren’t real. And depending on how the lawsuit Amazon filed plays out, there may soon be a precedent for legal action.
Online reviews are incredibly helpful for a business, if used properly. We should all remember in this e-commerce space to be honest and genuine about our businesses, even if we have the ability to hide behind a screen and a username.
This is a big deal, and it's encouraging to see Amazon (again) taking a hard line against this. Of course being the Goliath, Amazon has the juice and the technology to identify and pursue this, but the reality is that fake reviews are something that permeates any vertical that allows for product reviews. Yelp is another example of a company that has taken action against this issue.
As an approved Amazon vendor, I can tell you that it is not easy to get on board, and their seller processes are very tightly monitored and controlled on the back end. Product reviews are certainly the golden egg for both sellers and consumers, and it is imperative that Amazon continues to vigorously defend their position as a (if not THE) trusted source for the latter. Kudos to them!