Amazon is suing four companies it accuses of purposefully flooding its shopping platform with fake reviews.
Three of the companies had almost 350,000 reviewers on their books.
According to the tech giant, the companies act as unofficial brokers between Amazon sellers and individuals who write reviews.
In exchange for each review, the reviewers receive free products and a small fee, and the firm charges the seller a fee to boost its ratings on Amazon.
According to Amazon, the sellers are not always aware that this is being done by using fake reviews.
The companies it has threatened to sue are accused of collectively targeting its platforms in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, and Canada. It attacked three of them earlier this year and is now confronting a fourth.
As a result, one company has ceased operations. Matronex says on its website that it has “completely shut down” as a result of Amazon’s actions.
On the website of one of the firms which is still in business, there is advice for customers whose reviews have been rejected by Amazon. The following are some of the possible causes
“Please write your reviews honestly and not too frequently,” it adds.
Amazon claims that as part of the settlement, one company agreed to share information about its customers. It claims this will help it track them down on its platform.
It admitted they can be difficult to identify because the exchange does not take place on Amazon itself. It claims that by 2020, it will have prevented the publication of 200 million fake reviews.
Reviews heavily influence online purchasing decisions; according to the UK government, the average household spends £900 per year on products based on what others say about them.