Amazon is suing over 10,000 administrators of Facebook groups that offer to post fake reviews on the online souk’s website in exchange for products and money.

Merchants selling items on Amazon are more likely to appear first in search results if their products are highly rated by previous purchases. Some vendors therefore abuse the system by persuading netizens to post fake ones. Many are recruited through Facebook groups.

One group, known as “Amazon Product Review”, had over 43,000 members before Facebook’s parent biz Meta binned it earlier this year. Another, named “Amazon Varified Buyer & Seller” contained more than 2,500 members. Group admins charged $10 per fake review, according to CNBC. Reviewers were also lured with promises of free products in return for sham assessments of items such as car stereos or camera tripods. 

“Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they’re ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media,” Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services, said in a statement. “Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.”

Amazon said it has a team of over 12,000 people actively hunting for fraud and abuse committed on its platforms. One group specializes in sniffing out fake review scams on social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. Over 10,000 fake review broker groups have been reported to Meta, and half of these have been taken down, we’re told. 

Amazon uses a mixture of human reviewers and technology like machine learning algorithms to detect fake posts. In an attempt to avoid being found out by automated methods, sometimes these groups use incorrect spellings or blank out letters in words that might arouse suspicion. 

Trying to get rid of these fake-review farms is like whack-a-mole – remove a bunch, and new ones pop up. Amazon has sued several brokers for misleading customers shopping on its platforms around the world.

“The nefarious business of brokering fake reviews remains an industry-wide problem, and civil litigation is only one step,” the company said.

“Permanently ridding fake reviews across retail, travel, and other sectors will require greater public-private partnership, including collaboration between the affected companies, social media sites, and law enforcement, all focused on a goal of greater consumer protection. Amazon remains eager to continue to partner with all the relevant stakeholders to achieve that mutual goal.” ®