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BizReport : Law & Regulation : June 20, 2015

British watchdog investigates fake reviews

The number of businesses posting fake reviews is high enough that the Competition and Markets Authority says it warrants thorough investigation to see if they need to clamp down on the illegal practice.

by Helen Leggatt

Many websites exist to provide consumers with 'user-generated' reviews. However, in many cases those reviews may not be totally legit.

The Competition and Markets Authority has uncovered evidence that businesses, none of which have yet been named, are posting fake reviews. This can have an enormous impact on the buying intentions of many consumers, with more than half of consumers using review sites when shopping online or researching offline purchases.

In particular, the CMA's findings uncovered practices such as:

- fake reviews being posted onto review sites;
- negative reviews not being published;
- businesses paying for endorsements in blogs and other online articles without this being made clear to consumers.

"Millions of people look at online reviews and endorsements before making decisions such as where to stay on holiday, or which plumber to use," said Nisha Arora, a senior director at the CMA. "Consumers can be fooled by online reviews about businesses, which are often posted by the businesses themselves. We are committed to ensuring that consumers' trust in these important information tools is maintained, and will take enforcement action where necessary to tackle unlawful practices."

The CMA has provided guidelines for businesses who host reviews, publish reviews, or whose products are being reviewed.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: online review, review trends

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