Which? says Facebook, Google and Amazon must tackle ‘epidemic’ of scams and fake reviews

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Which says Facebook, Google and Amazon must tackle ‘epidemic’ of scams and fake reviews
Which says Facebook, Google and Amazon must tackle ‘epidemic’ of scams and fake reviews. image: Wikipedia

Which? says Facebook, Google and Amazon should be forced to tackle the ‘epidemic’ of scams and fake reviews.

Consumer champion Which? has said that Facebook, Google and Amazon should be forced to tackle the current ‘epidemic’ of scams and fake reviews.

Which? has recently launched a campaign for new laws to protect people from an epidemic of scams, dangerous products and fake reviews online – as new research from the consumer champion showed that the worlds tech giants are failing to adequately protect their users.

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Which? believes urgent government action is needed to make online platforms legally responsible for the harmful content on their sites that leaves people seriously exposed to financial, emotional or even physical harm.

The consumer champion’s latest research, a survey of 2,000 UK adults, shows trust among consumers in the ability of tech giants like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google to protect them from either scams, unsafe products or fake reviews is at an all-time low – with two thirds (68%) of people saying they have little or no trust that online platforms are taking effective steps to do so.

Which? says this reveals a failure of major online platforms to take enough responsibility, below is the main part of the published report:


One in five (18%) respondents reported having bought an unsafe product that posed a health or safety risk from an online marketplace in the last year.

A fifth (21%) said a product they had bought from Amazon Marketplace presented a health or safety risk and one in six (16%) who had bought a product from eBay reported this happening too.

For scam victims, the knock-on effects were severe, with half (51%) saying it was negative for their financial situation, a third (33%) saying it negatively impacted their mental health and a quarter (23%) saying falling victim to the scam even impacted their physical health in a negative way.


Nearly nine in 10 (89%) respondents to Which?’s survey said they use online customer reviews to inform product purchases or choice of services.

However just six per cent trust ‘a great deal’ that online platforms like Amazon and Facebook are taking effective steps to protect consumers from fake reviews. Three times as many (18%) do not trust ‘at all’ that they are taking effective steps.

Around four in 10 (41%) people admitted to finding it difficult to work out if customer reviews are genuine and have been left by a real customer that truthfully describes their experience with the product or service. Just one in six (17%) said they found it easy to do so.

Which? has launched its new #JustNotBuyingIt campaign to make tech firms take responsibility for the harms taking place on their sites. Platforms not having enough legal responsibility allows unscrupulous individuals or businesses and criminals to sell unsafe products, mislead consumers and target potential scam victims with ease, causing serious harm to consumers and undermining trust in digital commerce.

Which? believes the government must now step in with laws giving regulators and other bodies the powers they need to make online platforms take responsibility for the serious consumer harms on their sites.

“Millions of consumers are being exposed every day to scams, dangerous products and fake reviews. The world’s biggest tech companies have the ability to protect people from consumer harm but they are simply not taking enough responsibility.

“We are launching our new #JustNotBuyingIt campaign because it is time to stop just asking these platforms to do the right thing to protect consumers – instead the government and regulators must now step in and make them take responsibility by putting the right regulations in place,” said Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy.

Media giants reply:

Amazon 

“Last year, Amazon invested more than $700 million and employed more than 10,000 people to protect our customers from fraud and abuse. We are relentless in our efforts to innovate and have built robust programmes and industry-leading tools to ensure products are safe and compliant and to protect the integrity of customer reviews. We want customers to shop with confidence and if a customer ever has a concern, they can contact customer service and we will investigate.”

ebay

 “eBay has a long-standing commitment to ensuring consumers have the confidence to shop online safely. As part of that commitment, we have automatic filters in place which block listings which are unsafe or do not comply with our safety policies. These blocked six million unsafe listings from making it onto the site in 2020.

“As an additional layer of safety, our teams work around the clock to manually review and remove any listings which may not have been caught by our filters.

“And to further our continued work in consumer safety, eBay has established a regulatory portal that enables authorities, such as Trading Standards, to directly report and remove listings that do not comply with relevant laws and regulations,” an eBay spokesperson said:

Facebook

“Scammers exploit people in a number of ways, both online and offline, including fake phone calls and text messages, phishing emails and internet scams. Facebook is dedicating significant resources to tackle the industry-wide issue of online scams by working to detect scam ads, block advertisers and, in some cases, take them to court.

“While no enforcement is perfect, we continue to invest in new technologies and methods to protect people on our service from these scams.  We have also donated £3 million to Citizens Advice to deliver a UK Scam Action Programme to both raise awareness of online scams and help victims,” said a Facebook company spokesperson.

Google

“Protecting consumers and legitimate businesses operating in the financial sector is a priority for us. We have been working in consultation with the FCA for over a year to implement new measures and having now launched further restrictions requiring financial services advertisers to be authorised by the FCA with carefully controlled exceptions, we will be vigorously enforcing our new policy,”  said a spokesperson fro Google.

 


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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!. Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.

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