Up until late 2016, Amazon allowed sellers to give away products in exchange for a review. Then, Amazon banned all incentivised reviews. But incentives continued to be offered away from the official discount code system. Today, the black market ecosystem is focused on manipulating the Amazon reviews and search ranking systems, using a vast range of nefarious techniques.
Fake reviews appear as “verified purchases” but the purchase was funded by the seller using PayPal, an Amazon gift voucher, or other means. To support these fake reviews, black hat service providers use automated buyer accounts (or bots) to upvote positive reviews for their seller clients and downvote positive reviews for their competitors. The same applies to accounts used to target honest sellers with fake negative reviews, and fake upvotes used to give those reviews extra weight. Sellers need to try and track competitor behaviour because they may need to fight back if they are on the receiving end of an attack.
Is it safe to buy fake Amazon reviews?
Buying fake reviews usually results in two outcomes:
- You’re tracked down and suspended by policy teams for Amazon review manipulation; or
- The reviews get deleted down the road and possibly your account too.
What problems do fake reviews cause for Amazon?
- Fake reviews hit at the very foundation of the Amazon marketplace affecting buyer trust and buyer experience.
- Sellers who play by the rules suffer from fake negative reviews while their competitors accrue fake positive ones.
- Amazon itself loses more faith in the validity of the reviews with each passing day.
- Ultimately, the integrity of the entire marketplace comes into troubling focus and everyone asks why Amazon isn’t doing more.
Why aren’t Amazon doing more about fake reviews?
- It’s hard to scale the kind of investigation work needed as most of the bad behaviour now occurs outside of Amazon.
- It’s almost impossible to connect the buyer accounts associated with fake verified reviews back to the third-party service providers arranging them.
- Amazon are trying to reduce investigator headcount, not add to it.
- Managers within Amazon are not equipped to address such an unwieldy problem.
- Higher-level Amazon executives don’t understand the scope of the problem.
- There are no fully-functional standard operating procedures which attack the core causes.
- The greater public isn’t familiar with how this works and doesn’t know how much they should care about it, yet.
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