Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has gone to war with Facebook, the world’s biggest social media service. Amazon basically issued a declaration of war against Facebook when it filed a lawsuit against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that the company alleges have been offering compensation to users in exchange for fake reviews.
Amazon does not only act like a retailer. It also serves as a middleman for countless sellers of both new and used goods. In this way, Amazon competes head to head with eBay. As such, every one of its web pages where a product is offered for sale also comes with a section where people can leave reviews of that product. But only people with verified Amazon accounts can leave reviews.
So, this is where Facebook comes into the picture.
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On Facebook, users can leave whatever reviews they like about anything on their pages or in various groups. A Facebook group about electronic appliances, for example, could be filled with user reviews about different kinds of computers or mobile phones. Therein lies the problem: A company could pay Facebook users to give its products good reviews, or give negative reviews to the competition.
In the past, people paid for numerous fake accounts to “like” or “follow” them on social media to make it look like they had millions of followers, or generate fake hits on their websites. But companies like Google and Facebook were able to identify the fake accounts and delete the. So now people need to resort to outright bribery for “likes” and so forth.
This is what Amazon alleges is happening.
One novelty here is Amazon’s insistence that Facebook reveal the identities of the various people that run the groups in question. These people are known as “administrators” and companies like Facebook never want to unmask them as such people depend on remaining anonymous from whoever might not like what they say or do. Revealing their identities, companies like Facebook feel, will hurt their businesses because it will discourage others from using their services.
But Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is already cooperating with Amazon and says that it removed thousands of fake groups like the ones listed in the Amazon complaint.
For example, according to the Amazon lawsuit, one group called “Amazon Product Review” included more than 43,000 members. Amazon asserts that this group offered refunds to people who were willing to leave bogus reviews on products they had bought through Amazon like camera tripods and car stereos.
“Amazon Varified Buyer & Seller” is listed as another such alleged fake group that had more than 2,500 members. According to the lawsuit, its administrators allegedly sought out fake reviews, and offered them to Amazon sellers, charging $10 per review.
Facebook is clearly in no position these days to refuse to take action when presented with such complaints. Ever since it allowed the proliferation of fake news feeds during the 2016 American elections it has been under government scrutiny everywhere. And its Instagram messaging service is also under the microscope these days after it allowed the proliferation of malicious posts and what is known as trolling,