CMA launches probe into Amazon and Google over fake reviews
The Competition and Markets Authority announced on Thursday that it will investigate tech giants Amazon and Google over whether the two firms broke consumer law by taking insufficient action to take down fake reviews on their sites.
It is a follow-up probe to another opened by the CMA in May 2020 over the same issue. The CMA assessed several platforms' internal systems and processes for identifying the false reviews.
CMA is concerned that both companies are not detecting fake and misleading reviews soon enough and are not imposing sanctions on those they do find.
The CMA is also concerned that Amazon’s systems have been failing to adequately prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings – for example, by co-opting positive reviews from other products.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s Chief Executive, said: "Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations. Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.
"We are investigating concerns that Amazon and Google have not been doing enough to prevent or remove fake reviews to protect customers and honest businesses. It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough," he added.
If, after investigating, the CMA considers the firms have broken consumer protection law, it can take enforcement action. This could include securing formal commitments from the firms to change the way they deal with fake reviews or escalating to court action if needed.
The CMA’s investigation into fake reviews is part of a broader programme of CMA work, which includes establishing a new pro-competition regulatory regime for digital markets, to curb the power of big tech.