In the internet age, online reviews matter more than ever. Companies pay attention to something like a King Kong marketing review, among others, to see how customers perceive them, and how they can improve. Such is the importance of online reviews that legislation and governments have been taking notes; Google recently received a few court orders regarding bad reviews on their platform.
It’s no surprise, then, that another government is looking into online reviews and what they can do; specifically, how fake reviews can be used to trick customers.
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the Netherland’s government agency in charge of ensuring fair market competition and protecting customer rights, recently started investigating fake likes, reviews, and followers online. According to the Dutch market authority, fake responses like these are used by unscrupulous companies and organizations to manipulate their image, which, in turn, misleads and deceives customers about the quality and popularity of products and/or services, and the companies that sell them.
According to the ACM, fake reviews aren’t just a tool to improve the image of unscrupulous companies, but also to put down their competition. This has resulted in damage to the online advertisement industry, which they estimate to total to €1.2bn globally.
ACM Director Edwin van Houten issued a statement on the investigation, saying that the use of fake reviews, likes, and followers hurt the trust and confidence of customers have towards the online marketplace. He adds that the information that customers find on the internet, like many a King Kong marketing review, which influences their purchases. On top of that, these fake reviews and advertising is also anathema to fair competition in the market.
As part of this endeavor, the ACM will be hunting down companies that use and sell fake responses, with appropriate punishments, though the first infractions will only be ordered to stop their practices. This includes the confiscation of customer files, which the authority will then use to identify companies that use fake responses to boost their image and deceive customers. These companies will also be ordered to cease using fake responses, with punishments to be issued as deemed necessary by the ACM.