Facebook, Google and Trustpilot ‘fail to fight fake reviews’

According to a report by consumer association Which?, unscrupulous brokers continue to infiltrate Facebook, Google and Trustpilot with fake reviews.

After investigating a fake online business – PCR testing company ‘Gold Lion Labs’ – Which? contacted an expert fake review intermediary, Xealme, who offered reviews on all three sites. The company claimed to have created nearly 16,000 reviews for a total of 570 clients, and claimed to offer its services in almost every country in the world.

And, on Facebook, Gold Lion Labs racked up 19 five-star ratings from fake profiles in just five days. After Which? contacted Facebook, the latter only deleted 18 of the profiles, but it took almost a month to delete the others.

On Trustpilot, reviews added more slowly, but they were still 19 after three weeks, giving the company a TrustScore of 4.6. And after a week, there were also 19 reviews on Google.

“Facebook, Google and Trustpilot are not doing enough to stop a fake review industry that has thrived on and profited from misleading reviews for years,” said Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?.

“Facebook, in particular, has repeatedly been slow to act on fake reviews, showing complete disregard for consumers who want to read genuine reviews. »

Trustpilot says it has identified and removed more than 2.7 million false and misleading reviews out of a total of 46.7 million posted last year.

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve introduced new technology that allows us to understand complex patterns of potential abuse and trace them to identify review sellers and review buyers,” a spokesperson said.

“This has allowed us to take legal action against companies that buy fake reviews and work with other social media platforms to remove review sellers. Additionally, we now offer an option for consumers to verify their identity on Trustpilot. »

The company says it has issued a cease and desist letter against Xealme, which has now removed all pages offering fake reviews on the site. Meanwhile, Facebook says it is investigating accounts highlighted by Which?.

“We have dedicated significant time and resources to combating this issue and will continue to do so,” a spokesperson said.

“Fraudulent and deceptive activities are not permitted on our platforms, including offering or trading false reviews. Our safety and security teams work continuously to help prevent these practices. »

Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans for a new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill that would ban the sale or advertising of fake reviews and require platforms to verify whether reviews are genuine.

The Competition and Markets Authority would have the power to directly fine companies up to 10% of their global annual turnover, and demand that consumers be compensated without having to go through lengthy legal proceedings. . Which? calls for this legislation to be adopted without delay.

Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Emma woollacott

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