Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that it accuses of coordinating false reviews in exchange for money or free products.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said in a statement posted on its website Tuesday that the Facebook groups were created to recruit people “willing to post incentivized and misleading reviews” at its stores in the US, UK , Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.
The problem of fake reviews is not new to Amazon or to e-commerce in general. Amazon itself has previously sued people it said were offering false testimonials, though lawmakers and regulators have questioned whether the company was doing enough to combat the problem. Last year, UK competition regulators launched an investigation into whether the online retailer and Google were taking adequate steps to protect shoppers.
In the statement, Amazon said that one of the Facebook groups it targets, called “Amazon Product Review,” had more than 43,000 members. The company said Facebook removed the group this year, but was able to evade detection by the platform “by changing letters in phrases that could set off Facebook alarms.”
Amazon noted that since 2020 it has reported more than 10,000 fake review groups to Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Meta has removed half of these groups and is investigating the others, Amazon said.
The retailer’s announcement comes as another aspect of the company’s operations is facing heightened scrutiny. On Tuesday, federal labor officials confirmed to the AP that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened inspections at Amazon facilities in New York, Illinois and Florida after receiving referrals alleging safety and health violations from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in New York, said federal labor officials entered Amazon warehouses Monday morning after his office made references to “potential workplace hazards,” including “the pace of work required by Amazon for its warehouse employees”.
Biase said the U.S. attorney’s office’s civil division is investigating safety risks at the company’s warehouses across the country, as well as “fraudulent conduct designed to hide injuries from OSHA and others.” . The bureau encourages current and former Amazon warehouse workers to report workplace safety issues directly to them.