Fake Reviews and Brushing on Amazon

On Amazon as anywhere consumers buy online, people often look first for the customer reviews section, for the most part assuming their veracity and relying on it as they weigh a purchasing decision. But as we all know, appearances can be deceiving.

Amazon has had a problem for a while with the practice of “brushing” on its 3P marketplace, where unscrupulous sellers boost their star rankings from customers by loading up the listing with irrelevant reviews for other, often scame products. This recently surfaced again in an article in Ars Technica, where the author described buying a defective drone for one of his children, where the listing was loaded with positive reviews for, of all things, honey. And in 2020, it was the Chinese seeds controversy.

What is Amazon doing to counteract this practice? Where did it originate, and how is it impacting legitimate sellers? Chris McCabe, a former investigation specialist at Amazon who is now an independent ecommerce consultant, helps us understand the issue and what it will take for it to be taken more seriously.