Tuesday 6 August 2019 12:01 am

Facebook ‘still flooded with fake reviews’ despite regulator warning

Facebook is failing to crack down on a “thriving” marketplace of fake reviews on its website, despite being told by regulators to tackle the problem, a new investigation has revealed.

Consumer group Which found dozens of groups on the social media site that recruit people to write fake reviews on ecommerce sites such as Amazon in exchange for free products.

Read more: Competition watchdog urges Facebook and Ebay to crack down on fake reviews

Researchers joined 10 of these Facebook review groups and found more than 55,000 posts uploaded over a 30-day period. The firm said the overall figure could be even higher, as Facebook caps the number of posts it displays.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued a warning in June to both Facebook and Ebay, urging them to clamp down on the burgeoning marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews.

But the continued presence of dozens of these groups on Facebook will spark concerns about the effectiveness of the social media site’s response.

Which said the situation on Ebay had “significantly improved”, although the investigation did uncover one listing advertising five-star reviews for sale.

“Our latest findings demonstrate that Facebook has systematically failed to take action while its platform continues to be plagued with fake review groups generating thousands of posts a day,” said Natalie Hitchins, head of products and services at Which.

“It is deeply concerning that the company continues to leave customers exposed to poor quality or unsafe products boosted by misleading and disingenuous reviews.”

Which called on the CMA to take action against Facebook over its failure to remove fake review groups.

The investigation also revealed a huge spike in membership of fake review groups, suggesting users may simply be moving to alternative groups when the original one is shut down.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We don’t allow people to use Facebook to facilitate or encourage false reviews. We have removed nine of the 10 groups Which reported to us and are investigating the remaining group. 

“We continue to improve our tools to proactively prevent this kind of abuse, including investing in technology and increasing the size of our safety and security team to 30,000.”

Which warned the rise in fake reviews was increasing the chances of consumers being duped into buying poor quality or even unsafe products.

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CMA senior director George Lusty said: “It is unacceptable that Facebook groups promoting fake reviews seem to be reappearing. Facebook must take effective steps to deal with this problem by quickly removing the material and stop it from resurfacing. 

“This is just the start – we’ll be doing more to tackle fake and misleading online reviews.”

Main image credit: Getty