Following another intervention by the UK’s competition and market authority (CMA), Facebook has removed 16,000 groups that trade fake reviews on its platform, regulators said today. Since CMA began investigating the issue in 2018, the CMA has been leaning on technology giants to prevent their platforms from being used as a thriving marketplace for fake review sales – pressuring both eBay and Facebook to take action against fake review vendors in 2019.
Under further pressure from regulators, the two companies pledged last year to do more to tackle this infamous trade – which showed that Facebook-owned Instagram was also a thriving hub for the fake review business. CMA’s latest intervention appears to be significantly more significant than last year’s activity – when Facebook removed only 188 groups and disabled 24 user accounts. Although it is not clear how many accounts, the tech giant has banned and / or suspended, it has now removed more group orders. (We asked.) The question also contacted on Facebook but did not respond directly to what we asked, instead sending us this statement:
“We have been extensively involved with the CMA to address this issue. Fraudulent and fraudulent activity not permitted on our platforms, including fake review offers or trades. Our security and safety teams are working tirelessly to help prevent these practices.”
Since the CMA has been raising the issue of fake review business, Facebook has repeatedly criticized for not doing enough to clean up its platforms, the plural. The regulator today said the social media giant has “further modified the systems used to detect, remove and prevent fake and / or misleading reviews on its platforms to ensure that it meets previous commitments”.
It is not clear why it has taken Facebook more than a year – and several high-profile interventions – to dial in anti-business activity on fake reviews. However, the agency suggested that the resources available to tackle the problem had shrunk because of related effects such as the COVID-19 epidemic and housework. (Facebook’s full-year revenue increased in 2020, but so did its spending.) The changes that CMA has made to Facebook’s system to combat fake review traders include:
- Making it harder for people to use Facebook’s search tools to find fake and misleading review groups and profiles on Facebook and Instagram
- Put dedicated processes in place to keep these changes working and prevent problems from reappearing
- Suspending or banning users who are repeatedly creating Facebook groups and Instagram profiles that promote encourage or facilitate fake and misleading reviews
- Introducing new automated processes that will improve the detection and removal of this content