Draft Government Framework to Limit Fake Reviews on E-Commerce Websites

India launched a campaign on Monday to fight fake reviews and unverified ratings in an effort to make online communication and e-commerce more authentic and less misleading for users.

The government has framed companies ranging from Alphabet’s Google, Meta Platform’s Facebook and Instagram, Amazon.com, and ride-hailing or food delivery apps that rely on consumer reviews to validate products and services. Positive reviews help generate sales and interest from potential buyers.

Some companies have been criticized by consumers and various industry experts for underestimating negative reviews, or accepting false ratings, making the review process difficult for consumers.

The companies did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs set up a committee in June to create a framework to check false and misleading reviews in e-commerce, said the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.

“The new guidelines for online reviews are designed to improve transparency for both consumers and brands and promote accuracy of information,” said Sachin Taparia, founder of LocalCircles, a community forum and researcher who made the initial presentation to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and part of the committee that drafted the guidelines.

“Regarding platforms like Google and Facebook, the new rules will require them to verify the real person after the review by using the mentioned methods 6-8 which means that the fake accounts created to write the review will disappear over time or you will not be able to review,” said Taparia.

Full details of the proposal are not yet public.

“We don’t want to criticize this. We will start to see voluntary compliance with these guidelines. And if we see the risk continues to increase, we may enforce this,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, told reporters. New Delhi.

The Bureau of Indian Standards will check compliance, the department said.

Online companies say they have internal checks to combat fake reviews, but currently failing to do so is not a violation of the law.

If the guidelines become mandatory, companies could face action for doing unfair business, suppressing bad reviews or enabling the cultivation of fake reviews, Taparia said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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