Amazon’s Lawsuit Against Fake Reviews

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Original article posted on Amy Harrop’s Blog by Haya

Fake Amazon reviews. You know about them, you might have even bought a few or considered them. It really doesn’t seem that harmful initially, you’re just trying to get the ball rolling by having some reviews placed on your product, and besides, you know that it’s that great, so what harm is there in placing a few reviews? Well, according to the latest lawsuit from Amazon, those fake reviews could be really hurting the company and its integrity. Not only is Amazon stepping up its measures to ban fake reviews, but they are suing sellers of reviews to stop this practice dead in its tracks.

This lawsuit targets all fake reviews for all products. From vacuums to HDTVs, fake reviews have been a cancer that some sellers have used to boost their sales. While we will largely focus on how these reviews affect Kindle and paperback books, this lawsuit is against fake reviews for every product.

Amazon’s Wording

According to the lawsuit, Amazon expressly says that fake reviews are a method by which some sellers attempt to improve their competitive advantage by making their product seem better than what it really is. This is done by creating inauthentic and often inflated reviews that exalt the product as the savior as a genre or the best thing you can possibly buy, but the truth is that the product might be substandard or not worth all the fanfare. This also makes consumers more willing to buy the product based on the glowing reviews, though they may not really like it after they read it.

This also creates distrust in the Amazon brand, as many consumers will wonder if those five-star reviews are real, and they will understandably doubt the integrity of both reviewers and Amazon in general, which leads to reduced sales for everyone involved.

The Truth

Yes, these reviews can be misleading and they do create distrust in the Amazon brand, but let’s examine the truth of these fake reviews. First of all, it’s usually easy to spot the fake review. Most five-star reviews will either be short and sweet (ie: “really did the job, loved it!” or “this book is great, recommend it to all my friends!” or “I’m going to read this book again and again.”) or they give a very detailed look into the product to saw who it’s for and why it’s great.

Fake reviews, on the other hand, will be glowing beacons, espousing just how amazing the product is and glossing over any shortcomings. The grammar and tone will seem mechanical, like it’s not coming from a consumer, and it will use persuasive language to try to get people to buy the product. While there are certainly fake reviews that do the job and come off as consumers, the majority are fairly easy to spot.

There are also some people who wonder how serious this lawsuit is because Amazon recently had an expose about how bad their working conditions are, and they might be using this lawsuit to both distract and to shine light on how consumer-friendly they are. While it’s hard to tell for now since Amazon really is going ahead with this lawsuit, their intentions might be less than pure.

Do Fake Reviews Really Work?

As stated above, most fake reviews are easy to spot, so you might think that these authors don’t get any rewards for their unethical (and possibly soon illegal) behavior, but you’d be wrong. Take the case of John Locke (not the classical writer, but a make-money-fast and novelist modern writer) who used fake reviews to gain his way to the top. For example, his book “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months” contains a number of fake reviews, and you can find them in many of his other books. Several of his books were bestsellers.

There’s also smaller cases like Dagny Taggart’s “Learn Spanish in Seven Days.” There are a significant number of five-star reviews, however a truly impartial review found a number of accent marks that don’t exist in the Spanish language, numerous grammatical errors that were likely made by poor online translations and very basic conversations that wouldn’t help you much in the real world. The only way to get so many great reviews with these many issues would be by buying them (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/10/21/how-an-industry-of-amazon-entrepreneurs-pulled-off-the-internets-craftiest-catfishing-scheme/).

According to Amazon’s own internal memos, they know that at least 60% of reviews are fake, and they also understand that stopping this flood is close to impossible. While finding authors who have used these reviews to skyrocket to the top can be difficult, you can find a list of unethical authors here who have used or are suspected of using fake reviews: https://zonalert.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/onlie-ratings-and-reviews-are-fake/.

Effects on Writers

So, even if they aren’t as serious as they are pretending to be, what are the effects on writers? First of all, I hope you never bought any fake reviews or planned to. They rarely have a lasting effect (often causing more harm to your brand than good due to the associated distrust), and more than likely Amazon will be taking stronger methods to remove and block these fake reviews. They might even, though it is quite unlikely, start penalizing authors who use these tactics with harsher punishments.

It might be long and arduous, but the best thing you can do is try to coax good reviews out of people by offering an amazing product. It isn’t as instantaneous as buying one, but it’s the best and more fruitful method as these reviews will be trusted and they will help build your brand. If you have bought fake reviews, then all you can really do is wait it out and see what Amazon does with this new lawsuit. You might be safe, but it’s best to rethink your marketing strategy.

Conclusion

While this might just be a ploy to get attention away from the darker sides of Amazon, this is still a real lawsuit and Amazon is currently planning to go after sellers of these fake reviews to punish them and to show authors (and other sellers) just how serious they are about removing these reviews and restoring trust in the Amazon brand.

Regardless of their intent, it’s best to steer clear from these fake reviews. Hopefully you haven’t bought any yet, but if you were planning to, now is definitely not the time.

Link to original article: http://amyharrop.com/amazons-lawsuit-against-fake-reviews/amazon-2/

Why Do Some People Risk It All To Cheat To Be Famous?

Johnson 5Cyclist Lance Armstrong, athlete Ben Johnson and author E.J. Ellory, deceived the world to the top, before their cups were full.

Do you feel restless and uneasy at times, because you want to achieve something but you feel lacking behind? Do you feel scared of failure in whatever you want to achieve in life sometimes, because things are not moving in your favour? Do you feel stagnant without progress in whatever project you are handling? It is part of life since people are passionate about things and as human beings we are likely to feel this way sometimes.

The question is: When engulfed in such times of uncertainty and fear, how do we handle it? People are dying to be famous. In pursuit of fame and success many take certain short routes which put them into shameful situations they have to live with it for the rest of their lives. No easy way to success. Success usually comes through hard work and sacrifice but why do some people prefer to cheat?

Ben Johnson

In 1988, Ben ‘The Bullet’ Johnson recorded one of the fastest times in athletic history in Seoul Olympic Games, after winning 100m gold medal.   The Canadian was stripped of his 100m gold medal after testing positive for drugs. Johnson claimed that herbal drink he consumed before the race caused his downfall, but the Olympic Committee didn’t accept this.

Samples of Johnson’s urine were tested for drugs immediately the third day after the 100m final which he won in a world record time of 9.79 seconds. Olympic officials confirmed that traces of the anabolic steroid, Stanozol, were found in his system. “A tragedy for Johnson and a great sadness for all Canadians,” said Canada’s Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Ben Johnson’s drug scandal was neither the first nor the last. Many athletes failed drug tests, including Marion Jones, who used banned substances.

Lance Armstrong has hundreds of fans worldwide, because great people inspire others. At the peak of his successful career, he placed eleventh in the World Championship Road Race with the best time of any American since 1976. From 1999 to 2005, Lance Armstrong consecutively won seven Tour de France titles, giving hope to other cancer patients as a cancer survivor. After a successful career, the US Anti-Doping Agency stripped him of his seven tour titles he had won and banned him from competing in cycling for life.

According to the Anti-Doping Agency, Lance Armstrong had used banned performance enhancing substances during the years of his career. Armstrong prior has vehemently denied the claims until January 2013, admitted to doping throughout his entire cycling career., leaving his fans miserably disappointed, as he steps down as chairman of the Livestrong cancer-awareness charity he founded. What a sad situation Armstrong and family have to live with entire lives?

E.J. Ellory admitted using fake identities to write about his work on Amazon. He writes glowing reviews for his own books, giving himself five-star ratings and slamming his competitors’ books. Why an author in the caliber of Ellory chose to live like that without any guilty conscience, while simultaneously criticising his rivals? “The earth provides much to satisfy every man’s need but not to satisfy every man’s greed,” great quote from Mahatma Gandhi.

While cheating is fundamental and part of human behavior many will do it. However, wickedness, evil, cheating and every negative activities men apply to enhance careers, would prevail but only for a little while. When the cup is full they shall be exposed.  Whoever thought R J Ellory, one of British leading authors will fake reviews?  The Birmingham based author, whose novels have sold more than a million copies admitted to cheating.

I don’t blame any of these men, for deceive the public. We are in a society many competing against others, so people are desperate to do anything which could take them to the top. We are in a world if one doesn’t come on television or radio; you are seen as nobody. Many feel comfortable with that but others can’t stand it, that’s where the cheating starts.

If people would take some few minutes to think of some wise proverbs and quotes, they would have saved themselves from disgrace. Yes! “God’s time is the best,” wait patiently and work hard for that success. Again, whatever one sows in life, the same he will reap and so whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Finally, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln.