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Amazon outlaws biased product review practices

07 October 2016 - 10:24 by Mike Price

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Although many people who shop online rely on customer feedback and reviews to decide which product to buy, independent studies have consistently shown that it is hard to trust the opinions provided on such platforms.

This is a two pronged problem, with some companies creating accounts specifically with the intention of posting a raft of positive reviews, while others send people free items in return for a review, which has been found to skew responses towards the positive end of the spectrum.

Now Amazon has announced that it is putting an end to the latter schemes, stopping people receiving free products in exchange for a review unless they do so via Vine, a service it operates itself, according to BBC News.

Amazon spokesperson, Chee Chew, said that while a small percentage of reviews on the site have been incentivised in this manner, it was important for the company to avoid allowing third parties to effectively buy positive reviews from consumers.

The difference between the third party review schemes and Amazon Vine is that the company has handpicked reviewers which it trusts to provide unbiased opinions on products, often before they have been made available via safe shopping online.

Chew said that Vine is monitored and regulated to ensure there is no foul play, while also pointing out that it is the best way for smaller, less established products and brands to get their foot in the door, without relying on reviews to be generated organically.

Companies advertising the ability to post positive reviews on Amazon in exchange for a fee were targeted in a number of lawsuits filed by the e-commerce giant in 2015, with this legal action being intended to set an example and discourage others from circumventing the review rules.