Author Topic: Washington Post article on Amazon review gaming  (Read 117 times)

I D Shukhov

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Washington Post article on Amazon review gaming
« on: April 24, 2018, 07:20:24 am »
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/how-merchants-secretly-use-facebook-to-flood-amazon-with-fake-reviews/2018/04/23/5dad1e30-4392-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html

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Amazon rankings are the new “battlefield” for online manipulation, said Renee DiResta, policy lead for the nonprofit Data for Democracy, a group of technology researchers dedicated to promoting integrity online. She has conducted research on paid Amazon reviews by joining some of the Facebook groups. “There’s a dark side to the race for the stars,” she said.

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In February, there were nearly 100 Facebook groups, split up by geographic region and by product categories, in which Amazon merchants actively solicited consumers to write paid reviews. One such group had over 50,000 Facebook members until Facebook deleted it after The Post’s inquiry. There are also Reddit boards and YouTube tutorials that coach people on how to write reviews. Websites with names such as Slickdeals and JumpSend let merchants give out discounted products, using a loophole to get around Amazon’s ban.

Merchants seeking to defraud Amazon have flocked to Facebook in particular, DiResta said.


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Last year, DiResta began studying and joining Amazon reviewer groups on Facebook. Her first act in the groups was to write “interested” next to a post describing a pair of Bluetooth headphones for $35.99. Almost immediately, a Facebook user purportedly named SC Li sent her a direct message, calling her “dear” and asking for a link to her Amazon profile. If she reviewed the headphones, SC Li said, he would reimburse her via her PayPal account.

Within an hour of getting SC Li’s message, DiResta got a slew of direct messages from other sellers, asking her to review tea lights, containers, shower caddies, badge holders, sanding discs, rain ponchos, pocket-size vanity mirrors and butterfly knives. The messages came in so quickly, she said, she barely had time to respond.

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DiResta found that many of the Facebook accounts had no friends on the social network. Their only Facebook posts were about cheap products, and their profile pictures included stock photos. A reverse image search on SC Li’s profile photo, of a man on a beach, for example, revealed a stock photo called “seaside man” that appeared on various Chinese-language lifestyle websites, an indication of a fake profile.

Reviewers “just see it as a way to make extra money,” DiResta said. “The question is why doesn’t Amazon crack down more? These communities are not a secret.”

The Gorn

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Re: Washington Post article on Amazon review gaming
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2018, 08:27:52 am »
Amazon doesn't crack down on this because they probably consider product review content to be "caveat emptor". And it would totally piss off legitimate reviewers to be blocked/canceled for suspicion of review gaming. I think it would create many more problems for Amazon than just allowing scammers to run free.

My story...

Since last December I've received a total of 6 or 7 boxes and padded envelope packages from Amazon containing one or more products. I did not order them, there is no gift receipt or note enclosed, and none of them show up on my order history. They are all addressed to me at my street address.

The contents of these packages:

Hair growth supplements @ $40/bottle of 60 day's worth.
A grand total of 3 decent looking Bluetooth headphones.
Several children's sized coiled mosquito/bug repellent bracelets.
A automobile smartphone cradle to attach to the dashboard air vent.
A chintzy looking men's sized medium faux black leather (vinyl) jacket.
Some other crap I forget.

All very random. Some packages came a week or two after I ordered something legitimately.

I've read since then and seen it reported on local TV news that these unwarranted product shipments are intended to cover fake product reviews being posted under the recipient's name by the vendor. I've taken a look on the product listing's reviews and the products I get always have hundreds of reviews in place and no real way to find one posing as me.

The FTC guideline or law on receiving merchandise not ordered is that the vendor is prohibited from requesting or demanding payment or return of the merchandise. They may not bill you for it. (Why: Imagine the "profit potential" if you could sell stuff by forcing people to pay for it.) So right now it's cluttering up a shelf in my garage and in the house.
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I D Shukhov

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Re: Washington Post article on Amazon review gaming
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2018, 01:15:18 pm »
That's really amazing. 

I might start using one of the third-party services mentioned in the article which help consumers analyze the reviews

https://reviewmeta.com/  and https://www.fakespot.com/

Fortunately Amazon has a great return policy, so that's the option of last resort if you get something of poor quality.

« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 01:32:15 pm by I D Shukhov »

benali72

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Re: Washington Post article on Amazon review gaming
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2018, 09:49:31 pm »
Thanks for posting this article, ID. No surprise that FB is the center of where all the bogus reviews start.

Gorn, that's amazing you get that stuff just out of the blue. If you happen to get a laptop, I'm looking for one...   ;D

I scan for long and detailed reviews with both Pros and Cons. Very rarely are those fake -- it takes too much time for some paid schmo to write thoughtful stuff.

unix

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Re: Washington Post article on Amazon review gaming
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2018, 08:15:50 am »
Wow
I didnt know that
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