CMA urges eBay to stop the sale of fake reviews

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is urging eBay to conduct an “urgent review” of the marketplace to prevent the sale of fake reviews. It says that fake review services are offered for sale and auction as product listings on eBay.

The competition watchdog says that it found “troubling evidence” that there is a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews. It detected that more than 100 eBay listings are offering counterfeit reviews for sale in a web analysis from November 2018 to June 2019.

It also identified – during the same period – 26 Facebook groups in total where people offered to write fake reviews or businesses recruited people to write false and misleading reviews on popular shopping and review sites.

It is estimated that over three-quarters of UK internet users consider online reviews when choosing what to buy. Billions of pounds of people’s spending is influenced by reviews every year. Counterfeit reviews not only lead to people making poorly informed choices and buying the wrong products, but they are also illegal under consumer protection law.

The CMA is not alleging that Facebook or eBay are intentionally allowing this content to appear on their websites. It says that both platforms have agreed to cooperate after being contacted by the CMA on the 20th of June 2019. It’s known that Facebook has already removed most of the 26 groups and eBay gave us the following statement:

“We have zero tolerance for fake or misleading reviews. The sellers we have identified from the CMA report have been suspended and their listings removed. Listings such as these are strictly against our policy on illegal activity and we will act where our rules are broken. We welcome the report from the CMA and will work closely with them in reviewing its findings.”
– eBay Spokesperson

The CMA says that they expect the sites to put measures in place to ensure that all the identified content is removed and to stop it from reappearing.

This is the first phase in a wider programme of CMA work aimed at tackling fake and misleading reviews. It builds on the previous action in this area to protect shoppers from misleading information on the Internet.

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