Amazon's search results for basic consumer electronics are dominated by no-name brands with hundreds of obviously-fake 5-star reviews. The company claims to put a lot of effort into stopping this, but few are apparent, leaving the world to speculate at Amazon's plans for the market at hand: people who search vaguely for cheap things and buy whatever the algorithm picks for them. I wondered if Amazon is permitting it because it doesn't want low-information consumers to know what low-margin items are reliable, but that seems awfully cynical, doesn't it? The idea it's cultivating a "trust hole" it can later plug with Amazon Basics or other decent-quality house brands just seems too mwa-ha-ha-ha conspiratorial.
Anyway, the Beeb interviewed some of the folks who crank out fake Amazon reviews in return for free stuff or money. Sounds like a fun gig!
"I have written reviews from numbing creams to eBooks to downloadable independent films," he says. "I think it's bad – but I think everyone's doing it," says Mr Taylor, describing himself as "cynical". "Since I started doing it I tell my family and friends not to trust reviews. If you are going to buy something you should do more research than look at a couple of five-star reviews on Amazon."
He says writers are paid to buy the product and then leave a review, meaning the review can be verified.
Et tu, numbing creams?