Amazon’s serious about eliminating fake reviews from its site, and the latest move in its take-no-prisoners approach is to sue three of its marketplace sellers who have used sock puppet accounts to leave positive reviews for their own products. Amazon is asking that the sellers be barred from any sales on or use of Amazon’s services, and that they have to give up any profits they made on Amazon, attorneys’ fees, and over $25,000 in damages.
“Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
It’s certainly understandable Amazon would want to do all it can to ensure the trustworthiness of reviews on its site. As long as Amazon’s reviews are considered trustworthy, they give that much more incentive to make purchasing decisions based on them. Amazon may hit a few false positives every now and then, as when it gets a bit overzealous about removing reviews from social media friends, but perhaps Jeff Bezos feels it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Alas, with this bullying behavior, Amazon reveals yet again, how little it knows about real world of publishing.
Track down the blurbs that the larger publishers use to promote their books. Many are friends or colleagues of the author. That’s precisely those Amazon wants to ban. Other blurbs are from those who have a book from that same publisher. It expects them to provide, as a matter of course, an occasional promotional review. That’s publishing or, more accurately, that’s advertising.
At times, Amazon can really be weird. It sics lawyers on these fake reviews and yet look at this search result for one of my books:
The first version is legit. What is the point of hosting those offering it at about three times the retail price? What reputable retailer would allow that? Yet Amazon is filled with such bogus listings.
Locating and fixing problems like that is trivia, given all Amazon’s computer expertise. A search engine could find them and staff could manually check and confirm the deletion of hundreds of them an hour.