The fake review epidemic: the regulation to stamp out fake reviews

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La epidemia de las reseñas falsas de google

The fake review epidemic: the regulation to stamp out fake reviews

In recent years, reviews have become an essential factor in consumers’ decision-making on e-commerce platforms. Before buying a product or contracting a service, many people consult the opinions of other users, as if they were the opinion of a close friend, in order to make an informed decision.

However, this practice has also given rise to a worrying phenomenon: the use of fake online reviews. That is, some companies or users publish false or manipulated reviews to mislead consumers and gain an advantage over competitors. This not only negatively affects consumers, but also the other companies in the market that do not engage in these practices.

Recently, the giant Amazon has been in the news for suing a Spanish company whose main activity was to review products for sale through the Amazon platform for a sum of money. This action is in addition to the legal actions previously taken by the computer giant in countries such as Germany, Italy and the United States against entities that promote the publication of false reviews in their shops.

How can a user check whether a review is true or not?

Before taking a review as true, it is important to pay attention to a number of details that can help us to know if the content of the review is real:

If the review is very well written, very detailed and with high quality photographs, it is very likely to be fake. The average user does not usually spend that much time on a review if there is no other interest.

Another decisive factor is usually the profile that has made the review, if this profile has never made another review, always reviews the same company or makes negative comments about competing companies, there is a high chance that the profile is fake.

What solution has the Spanish legislator come up with to curb the fake review business?

In response to this problem, Spain has passed the so-called “Digital Services Act”, also known as the DSA, which seeks to regulate online reviews and protect the rights of businesses and consumers.

The DSA establishes a series of measures to ensure the authenticity and reliability of online reviews. These measures include the obligation for platforms to verify the identity of reviewers, prevent fake reviews and establish a system to remove discriminatory, defamatory or offensive reviews.

The law aims to address the growing role of online reviews in the consumer decision-making process. According to the European Consumer Centre’s 2018 survey, 82% of European consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, while 66% consider them an important factor in their purchasing decision. Five years have passed since this study, so we can deduce that this percentage has only increased with the growth that e-commerce has undergone in recent years.

One of the main actions to be implemented by online platforms to prevent the creation of fake reviews will be the use of automated systems to detect suspicious patterns of activity, such as a large number of reviews posted by a single user or reviews posted very often over time. In addition, platforms that offer incentives to users to write positive reviews of their products or to write negative reviews on the websites of competing companies will also be penalised.

It also seeks to protect companies and users from discriminatory, defamatory and offensive reviews. To this end, it has imposed an obligation on platforms to provide a system for users to report reviews that violate these standards and to remove them quickly and effectively.

Although the regulation has been criticised by some business and consumer groups, it undoubtedly represents a major step forward in regulating the online world and protecting the rights of consumers and businesses. By setting clear standards for the authenticity and reliability of online reviews, this law helps to ensure that consumers can make informed decisions about which products or services to buy, while protecting businesses from unfairly biased reviews.

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