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UK antitrust watchdog opens probe against Google and Amazon over fake reviews

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The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today launched a formal investigation against Amazon and Google to determine whether the two companies “may not have done enough” to deal with the problem of fake reviews on their platforms.

If the British regulator finds that the two companies violated the country’s protection law, it may take enforcement action against them. This can include securing formal commitments to change the way they tackle fake reviews or escalating to court action.

Yesterday, Google announced that it would delay its plans of killing third-party cookies on Chrome browser following intervention by the CMA.

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Andrea Coscelli, CMA’s Chief Executive, said in a statement:

Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations. Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.

The regulator began looking into fake reviews in May last year. The investigation initially focused on the internal systems used by leading platforms to detect and deal with fake reviews. It later took action over the trading of fake reviews, resulting in Facebook removing thousands of groups that were buying and selling fake reviews.

Google gave Android Central the following statement regarding the CMA probe:

Our strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action — from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts. We look forward to continuing our work with the CMA to share more on how our industry-leading technology and review teams work to help users find relevant and useful information on Google.

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