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UK watchdog probes Amazon, Google for fake reviews of goods

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U.K. regulators are investigating Google and Amazon over concerns the online giants aren’t doing enough to stop fake reviews of products and services on their platforms

The Competition and Markets Authority said it opened a formal investigation into whether the two companies broke U.K. consumer law by failing to protect shoppers. The watchdog started looking into fake reviews on some big websites last year – without identifying any specific ones – amid the pandemic-fueled boom in online shopping.

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” the watchdog’s chief executive Andrea Coscelli said in a press statement.

“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

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Google and Amazon said they will work with U.K. regulators in their investigation.

“To help earn the trust of customers, we devote significant resources to preventing fake or incentivized reviews from appearing in our store,” Amazon said in statement.

Google said its “strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action – from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts.”

The CMA said its initial probe that begun last year raised specific concerns about whether the two companies had been doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews and removing them quickly from their sites.

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