Fake reviews and online reputation: legal changes are approaching
Consumption wants to ban fake reviews on Google and on all kinds of online platforms for that purpose. In the digital age in which we live, a large part of our daily consumption decisions are carried out through the internet, from the acquisition of a specific product to the decision to book at a specific restaurant.
In the digital age in which we live, a large part of our daily consumption decisions are made over the internet, from the purchase of a specific product to the decision to book a reservation at a specific restaurant.
In this context, our consumption habits are largely influenced by the reviews, opinions or ratings we find on third-party networks. In fact, it has been demonstrated that nearly 90% of people who buy online rely on the opinion of other users before making a purchase, which is why this circumstance has brought about very negative consequences such as, for example, the inclusion of false reviews to encourage purchases or even false reviews on competitors’ profiles to harm them.
In this sense, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has carried out the arduous task of approving a draft bill to reform the Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of November 16, which approves the revised text of the General Law for the defense of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws, the main objective of this reform being to put an end to unfair practices that have a great impact on the market, such as the business of false reviews or disguised advertising on the Internet and social networks.
In accordance with the above, Consumo will have the power or sanctioning competence to pursue this type of infringements that are developed and are mainly related to electronic commerce.
Greater control over online search engines
With regard to the amendments adopted by the Consumer Protection Agency for its implementation in the applicable regulations, it is worth highlighting the intention to establish greater control over online search engines.
With this modification, online search engines will be obliged to show a description of the parameters used to display the classification of the results provided to the user and, in the event that a price result has been personalized for the consumer on the basis of automated decision making, the consumer must be informed about it.
This measure has not been well received by the various search engines for the moment, as they consider that this requirement will mean having to publicly share part of their algorithm.
How have the main search engines such as Google reacted?
This year, giants such as Google and Amazon have been in the media spotlight when news leaked of the existence of a database of more than 200,000 people who were publishing false evaluations of Amazon products that they had never purchased, with the sole purpose of receiving free products or some kind of financial compensation.
As a result of this type of conduct encouraged by the companies themselves and as a result of the reform carried out by the Consumer Affairs Department, it will be the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that the reviews and ratings that appear on its website correspond to consumers who have actually purchased the product in question or enjoyed, if applicable, the service offered.
As a result of this type of reform, Google has stated that it will make all the necessary improvements to provide greater transparency to its users.
What are the implications of this scenario for online reputation?
In this regard, it should be noted that fake reviews have the ability to affect the ratings of companies and, therefore, distort the reputation of certain companies in the online market, both positively and negatively.
Therefore, the main implication of this new reform will be to eliminate existing disparities in the market, to strengthen transparency and legal certainty for the entrepreneurs themselves, as well as to ensure that the information consumers receive is truthful and reliable.
Letslaw es una firma de abogados internacionales especializada en el derecho de los negocios.