The recent issue surrounding fake news has put major platforms such as Facebook under a lot of scrutiny. The increasing level of distrust towards content shown on these sites is forcing major companies to take action. Amazon has been facing a similar situation dealing with biased reviews.
If you’ve ever read reviews on Amazon then you’ve seen the comment, “I’ve received this item at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review”. Data shows that the incentivized reviews average 4.74 stars, while unincentivized reviews average 4.36 stars. This data highlights that incentivized reviews are more likely to give a 5-star rating which can shift an average product into a great one. With the average rating of all products being 4.4 stars, biased reviews will inflate a product to look great, misleading the consumer.
Recently, Amazon addressed this by eliminating incentivized reviews that are not part of its Vine program. Amazon has taken a step further by limiting people only five reviews for non-Amazon verified purchases. This is an effort to combat fake reviews that people are selling out for. What used to be a great tool to gain insight into products has become an area that has become littered with sponsored advertisements for products. Amazon has also stated they will “restrict products that have an unusually high number of reviews in a short period of time”.
The problems these major companies are facing share a common theme; public deception. The recent attention that fake news is generating is only exacerbating the level of distrust towards major corporations. It will be interesting to see what steps other major companies will take to regain their consumer’s trust.