Facebook has failed to clean up the brisk trade in fake product reviews on its platform, a consumer association inquiry Which? has discovered.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) advised both Facebook and eBay in June that they required to do more to tackle the sale of fake product reviews. On eBay, vendors offered batches of five-star product reviews in return for money, while on Facebook’s platform multi-group hosting was discovered participants requested fake reviews authors in return for free products or money (or both).
A follow-up look from Which on the two platforms? An “important improvement” has been discovered in the amount of eBay listings selling five-star reviews — with the group stating it discovered only one listing selling five-star reviews after the CMA intervention.
However, little seems to have been done to avoid Facebook organizations from trading in false reviews— with Which? Finding dozens of Facebook groups saying “continue to encourage large-scale, incentivized reviews.”
Here’s a sample ad we’ve discovered doing a ten-second Facebook group search… (one of the few we’ve seen specifying they’re following US reviewers)
Discovered more than 55,000 fresh posts across nine Facebook groups in July trading fake reviews that it said generated hundreds of “or even thousands” of posts a day.
It points out that the real figure is likely to be greater as Facebook caps the number of posts it quantifies at 10,000 (and that ceiling was struck by three of the ten groups).
Facebook groups trading fake reviews that had increased their membership significantly over a period of 30 days, adding that finding dozens of suspicious-looking organizations in minutes was “disconcertingly simple”
Looked in detail at ten organizations (not naming the groups), all of which contained the word’ Amazon’ in their group title, discovering that they had all seen their membership increase over a period of 30 days— with some seeing large spikes in participants.
“One Facebook group tripled its membership over a 30-day period, while another (began in April 2018) doubled to more than 5,000 membership figures,” he writes. “One group had more than 10,000 participants after 4,300 individuals joined in a month— a rise of 75 percent, despite the group that has existed since April 2017.”
Speculates that the increase in members of the Facebook group could be a direct consequence of eBay cracking down on false reviews on its own platform.
“In total, on 1 August, the 10[ Facebook] groups had a staggering 105,669 members, compared to a membership of 85,647 just 30 days before that — representing a nearly 19 percent increase,” he adds.
There were over 3,500 fresh posts across the ten organizations, it says, supporting incentivized reviews in a single day. Which? Notes also that Facebook’s algorithm frequently recommended organizations comparable to those that appeared to be trading in fake reviews— on the’ suggested for you ‘ page.
It also states that it discovered group admins who joined the listing of alternative organizations to join if the original is shut down.
Natalie Hitchins, Which in a declaration? The Head of Products and Services said:’ Our recent results show that Facebook has consistently failed to take action while its platform continues to be plagued by fake review organizations that generate thousands of posts a day.
“It is deeply worrying that the business continues to expose clients to poor quality or unsafe products that are boosted by false and disingenuous reviews. Facebook must take immediate steps not only to tackle the reported groups but also to proactively recognize and shut down other groups and put in place measures to stop more from appearing in the future.
“The CMA now needs to consider enforcement measures to ensure more is done to safeguard individuals from being misled online. Which? The situation will be carefully monitored and the pressure to ban these fake review groups will pile up, “she added.
Which answer to?CMA Senior Director George Lusty’s results in a declaration said: “It’s unacceptable that Facebook groups supporting fake reviews appear to reappear. Facebook must take efficient measures to address this issue by removing the material rapidly and preventing it from resurfacing.
“This is just the beginning–we’re going to do more to address false and misleading internet reviews,” he added. “Lots of us depend on reviews to decide what to purchase when shopping online. It is essential that individuals can trust that they are real, rather than something someone has been paid to write. “Facebook asserted in a declaration that it has removed 9 out of 10 organizations.
“We don’t enable individuals to use Facebook to promote fake reviews or promote them,” he added. “We continue to enhance our instruments to avoid such abuse proactively, including investing in technology and raising the size of our security and security team to 30,000.”