Facebook and eBay pledged Wednesday to more aggressively tackle scammers trading fake and misleading product reviews in new agreements with British regulators.
The companies have cracked down on people seeking to get paid for penning bogus reviews on shopping and review websites since the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority raised concerns about the problem last June, officials said.
Facebook has removed 188 groups and disabled two dozen accounts in response to the problem while eBay has banned 140 users, the authority said. The companies also agreed to take steps to stop the offending content from showing up in the future, officials said.
“Millions of people base their shopping decisions on reviews, and if these are misleading or untrue, then shoppers could end up being misled into buying something that isn’t right for them — leaving businesses who play by the rules missing out,” Andrea Coscelli, the competition authority’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The competition authority has said it found evidence of a “thriving marketplace” for fake online reviews in a probe that ran from November 2018 to June of last year. Officials discovered more than 100 eBay listings selling bogus reviews and more than two dozen Facebook groups where people offered to write them or businesses recruited people to do so.
Neither company was letting the solicitations show up intentionally, British officials said.
Facebook said it could use automated technology to help take down such content as part of its efforts to fight the scams.
“While we have invested heavily to prevent this kind of activity across our services, we know there is more work to do and are working with the (Competition and Markets Authority) to address this issue,” the company said.
eBay has bolstered its filtering system to better identify and block listings for reviews, the competition authority said.
“We maintain zero tolerance for fake or misleading reviews and will continue to take action against any seller that breaches our user polices,” an eBay spokeswoman said.