Amazon steps up efforts to target fake reviewers…and the merchants who use them

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Did you know that you can hire a company to write glowing recommendations about the products your business sells on Amazon.com, regardless of whether they bought them or not? You can. And, unfortunately, more than a few merchants use this deceitful tactic to bolster their products’ ratings.

Not anymore, says Amazon.

Just in time for the peak holiday buying season, the online giant announced a change in policy that will limit customers to only five reviews a week for “non-verified” purchases – in other words, items that Amazon cannot confirm were purchased on its site or those given to customers at a huge discount in exchange for positive feedback.

As reported in the Digital Reader, a group of “prolific reviewers” received an email from Amazon telling them that they’re welcome to leave as many reviews as they want for products that they actually buy on the site, but would now be limited for all others. The policy doesn’t apply to books, music and video.

“The limit is five and the count is calculated from Sunday at 12:00am UTC through Saturday 11:59pm UTC.” said spokeswoman Angie Newman via an email to Geekwire. “We’re always innovating on behalf of our customers and shoppers consistently tell us that they value reviews from other shoppers who they know have purchased the product on Amazon.”

Amazon says the vast majority of reviews are authentic, but the company admits fake reviews are growing too fast. That’s why, according to Geekwire, the company recently filed suit against a bunch of businesses that allegedly sell fake reviews as well as the companies that bought them. In addition to these actions, the company is also now giving more weight and visibility to verified customer reviews with written comments. (Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post).

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