ACCC finds one in three online businesses faking, deleting reviews | Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) #ACCC #finds #online #businesses #faking #deleting #reviews #Australian #Competition #Consumer #Commission #ACCC

An Australian consumer watchdog analysis of more than 130 online businesses found 37% were manipulating reviews to have fake positive reviews published or negative reviews scrubbed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s examination of 137 businesses over 10 days in October 2022 looked at online reviews and testimonials posted on websites, Facebook pages and third-party review platforms.

The regulator classified potential fake or misleading reviews as those not clearly disclosing incentivised reviews, creating or allowing fake positive reviews, preventing, editing or removing negative reviews, or misrepresenting review ratings and the number of reviews received.

The ACCC found the sectors with the highest proportions of potential fake or misleading reviews were household appliances and electronics, beauty products, and home improvement and household products.

As part of the review, the ACCC examined 24 third-party professional reviewers and review removalists. The businesses offered to create fake reviews, with discounts for bulk purchases. The reviews were usually advertised as “human-made” but the ACCC found one business offered AI-generated content.

The reviewed organisations offered fake reviews for Google and Facebook, and two offered the creation of fake likes, comments and followers on social media platforms.

Some businesses offering the removal of reviews offered no-win, no-fee payment options.

“Businesses that seek to create fake reviews or edit or remove genuine negative reviews, with the intention of inflating their own ratings, lowering their competitors’ ratings, or hiding genuine negative reviews from the public, are in breach of the Australian Consumer Law,” the ACCC acting chair, Catriona Lowe, said.

“Whilst it may be important to businesses to manage their online reputation, they need to ensure that in doing so they are not misleading consumers.”

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The regulator did not name and shame and said the sweep was not undertaken to find specific breaches of consumer law, but said it had undertaken further work to determine whether business it examined might be in breach of the law.

The regulator also released its report on a sweep of 118 individual influencer accounts on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch examining whether influencers were adequately declaring when posts were sponsored content.

The ACCC found 81% of those examined were making posts that could be considered misleading advertising.

Some of the issues raised included tagging or thanking brands, sharing brand posts, prominently featuring brands in posts, posting discount codes, not disclosing they own a brand and not using platform disclosure tools.

The ACCC also said influencers were using vague or confusing language to describe brand relationships or disclose advertising such as “sp, spon, sponcon, collab, creativepartner, ambassador” and similar abbreviations.

#ACCC #finds #online #businesses #faking #deleting #reviews #Australian #Competition #Consumer #Commission #ACCC

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