9 March, 2016 – New York – London – Melbourne – Copenhagen – Berlin – The Office of the New York Attorney General recently announced it is prosecuting several companies for posting fake online reviews. Settlements with four US companies, including Machinima, Inc., resulted in fines ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. We firmly support these actions and we’re pleased to see fake reviews being taken so seriously.
“Reviews are a key part of many consumers’ purchasing decisions and it’s absolutely crucial that they can be trusted. Trustpilot has advanced manual and automated processes in place to detect fake reviews, and we hope the legal actions taken by the Attorney General will deter other companies from engaging in similar behavior,” says Trustpilot’s Head of Trust and Transparency, Kasper Heine.
Using fake reviews in this way is known as astroturfing, and it has been on New York’s radar for some time now. In 2013, a year-long investigation by the Attorney General’s Office resulted in 19 businesses being fined for commissioning fake reviews and placing them on sites likes Google, Yahoo, and Yelp.
Continued efforts to crack down on fake reviews stress the importance of an industry-wide approach to tackling the problem. Trustpilot works closely with industry watchdogs such as Trading Standards in the UK and the Danish Consumer Ombudsman, and report instances of misuse on our platform. We also routinely assist Trading Standards and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in their efforts to investigate and improve the online review industry.
This aligns with our zero-tolerance policy towards fake reviews. We invest significantly in fighting fraud, and our 35 strong Compliance Team works diligently to stay ahead of attempts to game the system. If companies continuously violate our guidelines and attempt to mislead consumers, we post a consumer alert on their profile, informing our community of suspicious behavior.
“Trustpilot’s active community is a fundamental part of our fight against fake reviews. Every month, thousands of reviewers and businesses contact us to let us know they have found something suspicious. Trustpilot wouldn’t work without their feedback and we’re very grateful that so many people take the time to help safeguard our community,” says Kasper Heine.