Amazon will sue you for your five dollars and more, that is, if you make it a business writing fake reviews of products featured on the website. People do that? Unfortunately so. Now, writing reviews for money is nothing new. But reviews should be honest and unbiased, based on the reviewer’s experience with a product, a service, a place, a movie or even a person’s performance. Reviews can make or break all of the aforementioned. Reviews help people make informed decisions as to what to buy, what to watch, where to go and who to ask for help with something before spending their hard-earned money. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of money, some people would go to the extent of writing fake or biased reviews. Some of these fake reviews that get posted to Amazon originate from the micro-tasking site known as Fiverr and Amazon is out for blood.
Good, honest reviews about a product whether they’re good or bad is the social equivalent of quality control. Whether it’s through the web, through print or down the grapevine, reviews help people flesh out the good from the bad; most of the time, since reviews are still opinions of people with different tastes and views. Most of the time, through reviews, the good becomes better, and the bad become good. The problem with dishonest, biased reviews is that they degrade good products with potential and elevate bad and potentially dangerous products. If you’ve lived under a rock the past decade and just discovered the internet and looking for a place to go, fun, and sunny Afghanistan is the place to be according to one thousand five-star reviews.
There are plenty of fake reviews on Amazon nowadays thanks to fake reviewers. Dishonest reviews are ones that come from people who give glowing or scathing reviews of a product they haven’t even gotten their hands on, a place they haven’t been to or a service they haven’t availed. Dishonest, biased reviews come from people with vested interests on products and services such as those coming from company employees who manufacture product X and give it an A, knowing full well the thing could fall apart after a week. Another instance is when company A contracts a horde of reviewers to say that product Y from company B sucks worse than shimmering vampires in Twilight when in truth product Y is superior than product X from company A. Where does company A get these reviewers from? Their staff, their friends and from micro-tasking sites such as Fiverr.
“I will give a five-star review of any Amazon product for 5 dollars.”
“I will give ten product reviews per Amazon product for 5 dollars.”
Some even say:
“Write your Amazon product review and I will post them for 5 dollars.”
The last one could come from a trusted Amazon reviewer fallen on hard times. Others would try to be valid by actually trying to acquire the product and give it five stars regardless.
Not trying to justify the needy, but the trade exists because there are companies out there that snap up these gigs like candy. Five bucks is nothing compared to the amount of commercial traffic brought by five-star reviews. Some of these reviews can be overly long and convincing. What protection do consumers have against this problem? No fear. Amazon has people working full-time on weeding out fake reviews from the genuine ones. But you can’t really weed them all. So Amazon decided to go down to the root of the problem and sue the offenders for every five dollars they got plus expenses and attorney’s fees. They have a list of over 1000 Fiverr user names to make an example of, just like those people sued for millions of dollars by music companies for music downloaded from Napster. Fiverr might just hand these folks over to Amazon too.
Whether Amazon will go through with its plan and feed these folks to their litigation, piranhas remain to be seen but hopefully, this will discourage others to go into the fake review trade. Given the bad consequences of fake reviews, it’s for the good of all really, not just for Amazon.