The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into false and misleading reviews on several important websites.
He said he would examine whether online stores were “doing enough” to protect customers as they turned to online shopping during the blockade.
The authority warned that it “would not hesitate” to act if the sites do not comply with the law.
This could include bringing major retailers to court.
“During the blockade, we depend more than ever on online shopping, so it is very important that the online reviews we read are authentic opinions,” said CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli.
“If someone is persuaded to buy something after reading a false or misleading review, they may end up wasting their money on a product or service that was not what they wanted.”
Some reviewers are offered cash or other incentives in exchange for positive comments.
But false and misleading reviews are illegal under the Consumer Protection Act – which prohibits merchants from pretending to be consumers of their products, for example. The CMA holds websites responsible for adhering to the rules.
Last year, the CMA estimated that online reviews potentially influence £ 23 billion ($ 28 billion) of customer spending in the UK each year.
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The new survey will cover areas such as:
- suspicious reviews, in which a person examined “an unlikely range” of products
- if companies manipulate reviews, e.g. combining good reviews for different products together
- paid reviews and how they are managed by websites.
The CMA declined to name the specific websites it was investigating, but pointed to previous discussions with Facebook, eBay and Instagram on the subject.
He stated that Instagram has pledged to tackle the fake reviews market on its platform.
CMA had also found the buying and selling of fake reviews in Facebook groups and on eBay.
The regulator said that “he has not currently claimed that any website has acted illegally,” but he would later name and shame the websites if he were to take action against them.
Last year, the consumer group Which? He said that in just one month, he found 55,000 posts offering free products to those who wrote good reviews on Amazon.
“It’s nice to see the regulator turn its attention to the review sites,” a spokesman for Which? She said.
He said that online platforms must take responsibility for the problem.
“We are providing further evidence to CMA that we hope will prove useful in the next phase of its investigation – and we expect the regulator to take appropriate measures against platforms that are short of responsibility for its responsibilities to protect consumers.”