Amazon Is Going After People Who Write Fake Reviews

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-931246p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Ken Wolter</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

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When you’re online shopping for the perfect Halloween mask or an awesome shirt for casual Friday, do you ever get the sense that those five-star reviews seem a tad exaggerated? You’re not the only one: For the second time this year, Amazon is cracking down on fraudulent product reviews.

In a civil complaint filed in Seattle on Friday, the company targeted 1,114 users listed on the UK-based website Fiverr, where freelancers list odd-job services like proofreading, graphic design, programming, and translation. According to the complaint, most of the defendants use the site to sell five-star Amazon product reviews for $5 apiece—often asking Amazon vendors to send them prewritten reviews, which they post from multiple usernames and IP addresses to outwit the company’s detection software. The result, the company argued, undermines the credibility of all reviews on its website, violating Washington state’s consumer protection act and its own terms of service.

“Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and expressly prohibits compensated reviews,” the complaint stated. “Nonetheless, an unhealthy ecosystem has developed outside of Amazon to supply reviews in exchange for payment.”

In April, Amazon filed suit against several websites that produced paid reviews of Amazon products, causing most of the sites to close. With the Fiverr suit, Amazon is trying a different tactic: suing individual users. The company admitted, however, that it only knows their usernames, many of which are no longer listed on Fiverr. Still, even a quick search on the site turns up many freelancers still offering the same kind of service. User Brett_lee, who is not listed in the lawsuit, says he’ll post a negative review on Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Yahoo for $5 (a one-day turnaround, multiple reviews, or downvotes on other listings cost extra):

Hi there, I will post negative reviews in anywhere you need. Its more better if you send me the text reviews. Need revenge or anything else, Just place your order 🙂

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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