In this comprehensive blog post, we’re going to take you through how to remove defamatory and negative Amazon reviews, how to determine the authenticity of a review, Amazon’s anti-manipulation policy for customer reviews, and several instances of manipulated, false, and defamatory reviews in the past few years.
- To remove negative and defamatory Amazon customer reviews, simply report the review in question to Amazon via its ‘Was this review helpful to you’ tool at the bottom of each review. Simply elect “no,” and enter the reasons why you think the review should be removed. The more “no” votes a review receives, the higher the chance it is removed by Amazon.
- Sellers and businesses may also remove defamatory and negative Amazon reviews by utilizing Amazon’s ‘Report Abuse’ link right near page content, followed by entering the reason or reasons why they think the review should be removed/violates the Community Guidelines. If the ‘Report Abuse’ link is unavailable, users may also directly email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To spot a fake or defamatory online review, keep an eye out for when the reviews were posted, language used by the author, author’s posting history, their avatar and image, whether there is excessive praise or condemnation of the product or service, and single word reviews. All of these characteristics are commonly found in libelous and fake online reviews.
Online Libel Removal Fact:If you’re looking to remove negative and libelous online reviews/comments, make sure to document everything. Doing so will help strengthen your claim for removal by providing an accurate depiction of the content in question. We also strongly recommend having a trusted friend or family member assist in the documentation process, as it can help refute claims of evidence tampering.
If you or your business has been the victim of negative and defamatory Amazon reviews, and you’d like to explore whether you can legally remove them, contact the online defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law today! At Minc Law, we understand the ins and outs of United States and online defamation law, and have removed over 25,000 pieces of libelous content and websites in our storied tenure. Furthermore, we boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal and takedown rate, and all for a flat reasonable fee.
Just remember, online defamation and libel is like a wildfire – the longer you let it sit and spread, the more damage it’s going to do to you and your business. Sometimes, the damage done becomes irreparable, so just know that time is of the essence.
Let’s take back your online reputation and narrative!
Why Negative Amazon Reviews Pose a Threat To Your Business
Coming in as the biggest and most popular e-commerce website in the world – with an estimated USD $177.86 billion in 2017 – Amazon is a brand and name synonymous with products and product reviews. It’s rise has been meteoric, garnering over 615 million visitors per year by 2008 and over 130 million customers to its U.S. site alone by the beginning of 2016, putting it at the forefront of online reviews, voting, and comments.
While Amazon’s review system exists to further transparency and trust in the e-commerce process, it inevitably has its flaws, and may pose a serious threat to your business’s reputation should the wrong review take shape online.
There’s numerous consequences associated with negative and defamatory online reviews, such as:
- Decreased business and fewer customers,
- Loss of customers completely,
- Severed partnerships,
- Decreased or loss of funding, sponsorships, and advertising,
- Heightened media scrutiny,
- Denial of future business opportunities, and
- Having to close for good.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has taken a hardline stance on whether or not to remove negative reviews on the website, opting to protect “the good, the bad and the ugly…to let truth loose.” And as the largest sole source of Internet consumer reviews, there’s a fair share of “bad and ugly” reviews out there, making Amazon an absolute hotbed for fake, defamatory, and negative reviews.
With nearly 95% of shoppers choosing to read online reviews before making a purchase (Spiegel Research Center, 2017), and an estimated 73% of customers heavily favoring a written review over star rating (Fan and Fuel, 2016), and a consumer’s likelihood of purchase decreasing exponentially with a less than favorable review, it’s safe to say that our society takes online reviews as doctrine.
Top 10 Products With Highest Amount of Fake Amazon Reviews
And, if you’re wondering about the top 10 products on Amazon with the most faked reviews, look no further. Fakespot, a website and business which analyzes online reviews, claimed to have analyzed nearly 3 billion reviews – compiling a list of the 10 most faked reviews on Amazon. Let’s take a look.
- Wireless headphones and earbuds,
- Screen protectors and phone cases,
- Smart watches,
- Phone charging cords and cables,
- 3rd party Apple accessories,
- Hair-loss products,
- Sneakers (ex. Nike and Adidas),
- Vitamins and other supplements (mostly dealing with medical benefits.
The question is, are you going to acquiesce to malicious, fake, and negative online reviews? Or, are you going to stay proactive about your online reputation and brand monitoring?
So, now that we’ve taken a look at some alarming statistics about Amazon’s user base and online reviews, let’s turn to how one can effectively remove negative and defamatory customer reviews.
Defamation Removal Tip: Remember, depending on the form in which defamation is communicated, it will likely have differing statutes of limitations (time periods for bringing one’s claim). Due to slander being spoken and oral, it will likely have a shorter statute of limitations than libel (as evidence may be fleeting or easily destroyed). Most states generally enforce a one to three year statute of limitations for defamation claims. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s respective SOL, or you may risk being prevented from bringing a claim altogether!
How to Remove Negative & Defamatory Amazon Customer Reviews
While Amazon boasts both a well worded and convincing anti-manipulation policy for customer reviews and community participation guideline, the reality is much different than the ideal envisioned. To understand the general scope of exactly what an injured or defamed party can remove from Amazon, let’s take a look at several examples of reviews they allow and don’t allow:
Reviews Allowed by Amazon
- Reviews written by a customer who purchased a product first hand,
- Reviews written by the followers of authors, artists, and sellers,
- Reviews of product purchased with a discount which is generally available to all Amazon customers,
- Reviews of a product received for free at a convention, trade show, or other similar venue (as the gift of a product is unconditional),
- Reviews by authors of other authors,
- Reviews written by the relative of an author as long as the relationship is disclosed in the post,
- Comments on customer reviews or questions and answers as long as a person’s financial or close connection to the product is conspicuously stated,
Some common reviews not allowed by Amazon include:
Reviews Not Allowed by Amazon
- Product posting a review of their own product,
- Reviews written in exchange for cash, gift certificates, discounts, entry into contests/sweepstakes,
- Reviews posted by close friends, business partners, or employees in furtherance of boosting sales,
- Reviews in exchange for refunds,
- Reviews written on behalf of someone (even family),
- Reviews impersonating other persons and organizations,
- Negative reviews about a competitor’s product.
Additionally, Amazon also prohibits the posting of content that is “libelous, defamatory, harassing, threatening, or inflammatory.”
Removing Negative & Defamatory Amazon Reviews
To remove negative, defamatory, and other unsavory (and false) reviews from Amazon, we recommend users first report the review as inappropriate to Amazon via the ‘Was this review helpful to you’ tool at the bottom of each review. Simply select “no,” and enter a reason why you think the review should be removed. The more “no” votes a review receives, the less likely it is to appear at the top of the page. Amazon will subsequently review it and take the appropriate action if necessary.
Note that libel, unfair criticism, and false statements in Amazon reviews may constitute trade libel – the publication of a false assertion of fact that disparages the quality of a product or services relating to a person’s business. To read up further on trade libel, check out our recent blog post on ‘Slander of Title’.
But, how can I remove false and negative Amazon reviews if that doesn’t work?
According to Amazon’s ‘Community Guidelines’ defamed and libeled sellers may also utilize the ‘Report Abuse’ link near page content, followed by entering the reason why you believe the review or content in question violates the guidelines. Note that if no ‘Report Abuse’ link is available, you may email email@example.com. Make sure to specify the location of the content or review and the reasons why you believe it violates the guidelines.
Additionally, defamed or wrongfully attacked sellers and parties should:
- Consult an experienced online defamation removal attorney: As Amazon is a global leader in e-commerce websites, it does require some degree of personal information from users and reviewers. Contact an experienced online defamation lawyer to assist in the identification of an anonymous commenter. Once identified, an online defamation attorney can send a cease and desist to the libelous and malicious party, which may lead to the removal of the negative review and feedback.
- Procure a Subpoena: In cases where the reviewer or commenter is anonymous, we recommend you work with an online defamation attorney, who may work to secure a subpoena of the poster’s personal information. If issued by a court, Amazon may then be required to hand over identifying information about the plaintiff.
- Consider Responding to the Review: One final note of importance when confronting online defamation – make sure to weigh the pros and the cons before messaging or responding directly to a libeler or defamer online. While it might seem like a good idea at the time to respond politely, asking the reviewer in question to remove their view, it could ultimately have an opposite effect – leading to the further dissemination of such malicious and false content even further.
Online Libel Fact:Online defamation and libel is ripe and thriving on user-generated content platforms – websites and forums where users generate, create, and curate content. Most user-generated content platforms and ISPs are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prohibits holding such sites liable for information and content posted by third parties. There are several exceptions, however the general rule stands as a good starting point for online defamation.
How to Spot Fake & Libelous Amazon Reviews
We strongly recommend any business, product, or service which operates online establishes an online reputation and brand monitoring budget. It’s important to spot and catch fake and negative reviews before they have time to cause real damage to your business’s bottom line. Also, familiarizing yourself with common characteristics and language associated with fake and libelous reviews will put you in an advantageous position compared to your competitors.
When identifying libelous and fake Amazon reviews, keep an eye out for the following:
- Timeline of the reviews: If there’s a sudden influx of reviews being posted, and your business or product has been having a slow month, there’s a higher chance you’re dealing with false online reviews.
- Language used: Online defamers and malicious reviewers are sometimes outsourced to foreign firms and persons, so take note of whether the review is coherent, uses proper grammar, and exhibits familiarity with the product. Reviews which significantly depart from that three-prong criteria will likely be found to be fake.
- Reviewer’s posting history: If the reviewer in question has never posted a review before, this should immediately set off alarm bells for you. What suddenly caused this reviewer to sign up for an account and leave a malicious review?
- Reviewer’s avatar: Fake profiles often try and disguise their identities by using pictures from other people’s social media pages. A simple reverse image search on Google should lead you to the original source.
- Excessive praise or condemnation: An average and real reviewer often isn’t overly hyperbolic in their review, so beware of reviews which have excessive praise or condemnation.
- Single word reviews: If there’s very little depth to the review and it’s no longer than a few words, there’s a likelihood it was written by a review content farm or reviewer who had never actually used the product in question.
We also recommend checking out ‘ReviewMeta.com’, a popular website which analyzes millions of online reviews and issues reports on which ones you should lean towards trusting. While it’s not a perfect algorithm, it is a good resource to start with if you suspect your business has been libeled or unfairly reviewed online.
To decrease your chances of negative and defamatory online reviews and feedback on Amazon.com, we recommend optimizing your product images and descriptions, shipping items in a timely manner, staying communicative during the shipping process (if needed), and accurately classify the quality of a product or item before selling it.
Ohio Defamation Law Fact:United States and Ohio defamation law both recognize the legal principle called ‘defamation per se’, which presumes several types of statements as so inherently defamatory and inflammatory, that a plaintiff need not prove harm or damages. Ohio recognizes four types of statements as ‘per se’, such as: (1) statements which charge a person with an indictable offense, (2) statements which impute a contagious or offensive disease on a person, (3) statements which injure a person is his trade or occupation, and (4) statements which tend to subject a person to public ridicule, hatred, or contempt.
Recent Cases of Fake & Negative Amazon Reviews
Due to Amazon’s sheer domination of the e-commerce market, there’s no shortage of recent cases and examples whereby defamatory and fake reviews were at the heart of the matter. In this section, we’re going to walk you through three recent cases where fake, defamatory, and negative Amazon reviews were brought to light.
Facebook Portal Review Manipulation
With aim of increasing exposure and legitimacy of the Facebook Portal – a smart, hands-free video calling and voice activated camera – it recently came to light that Facebook employees had authored roughly 100 five-star reviews on an Amazon Facebook Portal listing – with three of the reviewers donning the same names as three actual Facebook employees. Tech columnist Kevin Roose noted in a January 17th tweet that the recent Amazon reviews about the Facebook Portal were highly suspicious, labelling such reviews as “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
In a second tweet, Roose noted the above prohibition under Amazon’s rules, which reads: “Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.”
Several of the identities were confirmed by Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth, however, he stated that the company did not encourage such behavior. One of the reviewers (and Facebook employee) funnily enough stated that he had “historically not been a big Facebook or other social media user.”
If you think it’s just a few products on Amazon that make up the bulk of fake reviews in the ecosystem, then you’d be wrong. According to analysis by ‘Fakespot’ – a website which spots and identifies fake reviews – the numbers were staggering for electronics, with over 61% of electronics reviews on the e-commerce giant labeled as fake. They also noted that fake reviews outnumber real ones, specifically in the areas of:
- Beauty: 63%
- Sneakers: 59%
- Supplements: 64%.
Chinese Seller Amazon Manipulation & Fake Reviews
In August of 2018, EcomCrew, a weekly ecommerce business blog, chronicled how China has been manipulating reviews, data, and accounts on Amazon. They noted an estimated 200,000+ Chinese businesses operating on Amazon.com – a number which is only expected to rise over the years.
The article touches on China’s meteoric rise in the tech world, especially in Shenzhen, dubbed the ‘Silicon Valley’ of China due to the rapid development of countless industrial parts and products. Such development has lead to increased online ecommerce sales and distribution.
The author interviewed Zach Franklin, of AMZKungfu, a consultancy for Amazon companies in China, where it was explained by Zach that he believed roughly 50% of all Chinese sellers on Amazon were utilizing some sort of review strategy directly in violation of Amazon’s terms of service. Franklin was quoted as saying, “To many Chinese Amazon sellers, the question of how to succeed on Amazon has a simple answer: reviews equal sales.”
So, how exactly are some Chinese companies manipulating Amazon reviews and the market?
Sellers use what are called “zombie accounts,” which are fake Amazon accounts opened for the sole purpose of emulating “real” customer browsing behavior. These accounts are savvy as well, and use actual shipping addresses, as to not raise suspicion of fraudulent behavior. In return for individuals in the U.S. and other countries providing these zombie account farms with shipping addresses, they are compensated (or given free products). One Chinese selling consultant interviewed in the piece stated that false and fake reviews generally begin at $3-5/review.
Furthermore, the article alluded to several instances where Amazon employees in China were caught stealing seller information internally, later reselling it to other service providers and sellers. From there, sellers looking to conjure up fake reviews are able to analyze integral keywords which are associated with higher conversions. From there, the fake reviews begin.
Online Reputation & Brand Management Tip:If your company or business has a notable online presence, we strongly recommend establishing an online reputation and brand management monitoring budget. Doing so is a great way to gauge the general public’s view of your product or service, and identify online intellectual property infringers. Establishing a set budget could be the difference between sink and swim for your business in today’s competitive online arena.
Work With Experienced Online Defamation Removal Attorneys to Remove Negative Reviews!
Have you or your business been the victim of false, defamatory, and negative online Amazon reviews? Contact the online defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law ASAP! At Minc Law, we’re here to fight for your reputation, and know the ins and outs of online defamation law.
In our storied tenure as defamation removal attorneys, we’ve secured the effective removal of over 25,000 pieces of libelous content/websites, litigated in over 22 states and 3 countries, and support a nearly 100% libel removal and takedown rate – rest assured you’re in good hands.
What are you waiting for? Contact us today and let’s get started!
Here’s what you can expect when working with the Cleveland-based defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law:
- Respect & Courtesy: At Minc Law, we understand how overwhelming and stressful online defamation and negative reviews can be, so rest assured, we’re always on your side. After all, your goals are our goals!
- Open Dialogue & Communication: Some online defamation removal attorneys go missing once the defamation takedown process has begun. Not us. Know that we’re here to keep you informed, and will make sure to frequently update you with the latest details surrounding your case and removal.
- Websites & Businesses Respond to Minc Law: As mentioned above, we’ve secured the swift and effective removal of over 25,000 pieces of libelous and defamatory content, litigated in 22 states and 3 countries, and boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal rate. Furthermore, we’ve worked tirelessly with countless website administrators, content managers, and third-party arbitration firms to secure seamless removals. Websites and businesses respond to us!