Amazon filed lawsuits against two websites over allegations around fake reviews.
The online giant has labeled AppSally and Rebatest as "fake review brokers."
Amazon and other online platforms have long struggled to combat the fake review shadow industry.
Amazon sued two websites — AppSally and Rebatest — on Tuesday, alleging the sites amassed an army of "bad actors" tasked with writing fake product reviews.
AppSally bills itself as a "curated marketplace for growth," while Rebatest describes itself as a "product trial website." But in a statement released Tuesday, Amazon labeled AppSally and Rebatest as "fake review brokers who orchestrate the posting of incentivized and misleading product reviews, in exchange for money or free products." In its statement, the online retail giant said it had investigated both companies and found that they "claim to have more than 900,000 members willing to write fake reviews." Amazon alleged that the sites incentivized fake reviewers to target its own sellers, as well as eBay, Walmart, and Etsy.
AppSally did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. A Rebatest spokesperson told Insider that the company was "shocked" by the lawsuit and that the site "didn't encourage our users to do fake reviews."
"What we do is to help the sellers collect some useful opinions from our users after they use the products before the products are put into the market," a Rebatest spokesperson said in a statement sent to Insider.
The spokesperson added: "We don't force or incentivize our users to do 5 stars reviews."
This new legal action — which was filed in King County Superior Court, in the state of Washington — is just the latest volley in Amazon's ongoing war against fake reviews.
Customer reviews can greatly impact vendors on Amazon. Positive reviews can boost an online seller's profile, while negative reviews can dent sales. As a result, a shadow industry has arisen where online brokers sell off five-star reviews, while some online business employ "black-hatting" to smear rivals with bad reviews. Third-party sellers have previously come under fire for begging customers to delete negative reviews, a clear violation of platform rules. The online giant sued a number of websites over allegations tied to fake reviews back in 2015. But websites offering to sell positive Amazon reviews in bulk have continued to pop up.
"A very small minority of sellers and manufacturers attempts to gain unfair competitive advantages by creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews for their products on Amazon.com," Amazon said in its 2015 lawsuit. "While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon's brand."
"We know how valuable trustworthy reviews are to our customers," Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon's vice president of customer trust and partner support, said in a statement about the AppSally and Rebatest lawsuits. "That is why we are holding these review fraudsters accountable. While we prevent millions of suspicious reviews from ever appearing in our store, these lawsuits target the source."
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