UK regulator investigates Amazon, Google over proliferation of fake reviews
By Arsenio Toledo // Jun 28, 2021

Google and Amazon are going to be investigated by the United Kingdom's top antitrust regulator over concerns that the two American tech giants are not doing enough to crack down on fake reviews on their websites.


On Friday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced the move to probe Google and Amazon. The CMA began looking into the issue of fake reviews on major platforms two years ago.

During the CMA's investigation, it will consider whether Amazon and Google broke consumer law by not doing enough to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

Sellers on Google and Amazon often use fake or misleading reviews to improve their star ratings. These sellers will sometimes offer financial rewards for people to leave good reviews of their products. The star ratings can in turn affect how prominently a company and its products are displayed when customers go into the online marketplaces.

"Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations," said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.

"Equally, it's simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence while law-abiding businesses lose out," he added. (Related: Massive fake reviews cam by Amazon vendors exposed.)

The CMA started its probe following an initial investigation in May 2020. During this investigation, the agency assessed the internal systems and processes several platforms had for spotting and deleting fake reviews.

The agency found that neither Google nor Amazon did enough to detect fake and misleading reviews and other suspicious behavior on their websites. They were also not doing enough to deter serial offenders.

The CMA added that Amazon's systems were failing to stop or deter sellers from manipulating their product listings through various strategies, including co-opting genuine reviews from other products.

If the CMA finds that Google or Amazon did, in fact, break consumer law in the U.K., it could take enforcement action against them. This could include securing formal commitments from the tech giants to make serious efforts to crack down on the problem or pursuing court action against them if they fail to do so.

Amazon and Google deny any wrongdoing

Both Google and Amazon claim they have done more than enough to protect their online marketplaces against fake reviews.

A spokesman for Google said the company immediately takes action when it finds out somebody has violated its policies.

"Our strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action – from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts," said the spokesman. "We look forward to continuing our work with the CMA to share more on how our industry-leading technology and review teams work to help users find relevant and useful information on Google."

Amazon said it has already devoted a significant amount of resources to preventing fake or paid reviews from appearing in its store. The company added that in 2020 it removed more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from its online marketplace before customers could see them.

"We will continue to assist the CMA with its inquiries and we note its confirmation that no findings have been made against our business," said an Amazon spokesman. "We are relentless in protecting our store and will take action to stop fake reviews regardless of the size or location of those who attempt this abuse."

Learn more about how tech giants like Google and Amazon regularly circumvent the law by reading the latest articles on

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