UK Government plans to make fake online reviews illegal

The Competition and Markets Authority could enforce consumer law directly, rather than having to go through the courts.

Someone using a laptop.

The UK Government is forming plans to tackle the rise in fake online reviews, with big fines on the cards for those who write or host them.

In the Government’s proposals, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be given power to fine companies responsible for fake reviews up to 10% of their annual turnover. The Authority would be able to enforce consumer law directly, rather than having to go through the courts.

Consumers often look to reviews before making a purchase decision, but many businesses working within the same marketplace have been found to use fake reviews to harm their competition.

A spokesperson for the CMA said: “There is a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews.

“People offered to write fake reviews or businesses recruited people to write fake and misleading reviews.”

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocay, said: “The Government must also give online platforms greater legal responsibility for tackling fake and fraudulent content on their sites.”

Which? also set up a fake business on Facebook to prove how easy it is for companies and people to write fake reviews. Within a few weeks it had ‘purchased 93 fake reviews and 500 page likes.’

Websites, such as Facebook, have been struggling to spot these fradulent reviews due to certain tactics being implemented.

For example, Which? bought Gold Star Marketing for £99 as well as 10 glowing reviews from Famous Follower for around £6.50.

One company said it would “drip feed recommendations” to precent the reviews being “removed by Facebook”.

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