Fascinating

Internet users who post false online reviews of books, restaurants or holidays are being warned they could end up in court as internet giants launch a fightback against fakery.
Amazon, the world’s largest online marketplace, announced it had filed papers in the United States against more than 1,000 people it claims offered to write glowing reviews of titles to help boost sales on behalf of unscrupulous authors or sellers.
The online retail giant said in the lawsuit that its brand reputation is being tarnished by “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews.
Amazon claims the 1,114 defendants, termed “John Does” as the company said it is unaware of their real names, offer their false review service for as little as £3.25 ($5).

Just about the only form of online writing I’ve not done is the one that is seemingly illegal.

All purely by chance, of course, that I avoided it.

20 thoughts on “Fascinating”

  1. Amazon could of course allow only those who bought the damn product to write a review or is that just too obvious?

  2. As you prolly know Amazon review do show when the reviewer actually bough the product though. What would be good is the ability to filter the reviews so that you only see those ones. I’m not aware of that functionality.

  3. Dan Brown is an absolutely shocking writer, but I can’t help but admire him for mining that rich seam of Catholics-Masons-Jesus-Conspiracy bunkum and making himself fabulously wealthy in the meantime. Hard though it is for me to believe, nobody was forced to buy his books, let alone like them.

  4. I actually enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, which I read in an afternoon during a holiday in Kefalonia. Shite, but relaxing and I enjoyed pointing out bad sentences to my wife. She got a bit fed up of that.

  5. I tried The Da Vinci Code, but the prose was so childish I found myself just scanning the page, already knowing what was there. Like Tim N, I don’t fault bums on seats, but still. Couldn’t get past page three.

  6. DMS – good point. Amazon could disallow reviews except for those who have bought the book. Although there are now Amazon reviewers who get freebies as they are top reviewers and this would hamper them.

    $5 for a review could work out as a good freelance rate, as long as you aren’t expected to make them TLS length…

    Anyway, I’m still not clear why this, or the self-puffing that Stephen Leather (think that’s the name) got up to is so heinous.

    Traditional criticism, having the same circle of establishment writers review each other’s work in a sort of circle-jerk, is much the same after all.

  7. Anyway, I’m still not clear why this, or the self-puffing that Stephen Leather (think that’s the name) got up to is so heinous.

    Ah, I know him. I think he churns out mainly pulp which sells at airport bookstores, but his take on expat life in Thailand Private Dancer is superb.

  8. Another big problem Amazon have at the moment is that there are suddenly loads and loads of Chinese vendors on Amazon selling obviously fake gear (ie. using Western brand names). I no longer buy from any Amazon vendor based in the far East.

  9. “Although there are now Amazon reviewers who get freebies as they are top reviewers”

    Interesting. Changes my view of Amazon reviews.
    I’d always respected Amazon product reviews because of the presumed peer-to-peer nature. These guys have skin in the game because they’d gone & paid real money for the product. Just like I’ll be doing.
    If they’re writing reviews for the sake of writing reviews, where’s the difference between what they’re doing & what Amazon’s suing over? The reviewers are extracting value from the reviewing, if only to obtain a stream of free products. Probably doing better than $5 a review, if they’re only reviewing freebies.

  10. There are rules about being an amazon top reviewer. I’ve offered to review fine food and drink and expensive jewellery. Not had anyone take me up on it.

  11. Interesting. Changes my view of Amazon reviews.

    I believe the freebie reviewers are also noted, as with the actual purchasers.

    If they’re writing reviews for the sake of writing reviews, where’s the difference between what they’re doing & what Amazon’s suing over

    One difference is that Amazon chooses to whom to send the freebies; presumably based on “Was this review useful to you”-type feedback levels.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Angels and Demons is the only book I can think of that I actually threw out, unfinished (rather than simply stopped reading). It was offensively bad.

    Foucault’s Pendulum is basically the Da Vinci Code for people who don’t move their lips when they’re reading, but it’s still one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you want Cathars and Rosicrucians and shadowy cabals, it’s dynamite.

  13. Tim Newman,

    “Dan Brown, for example: outsold the bible FFS!”

    The thing with any artistic stuff is that like the 10,000 hours to master a thing, you need a certain amount of different art to master your tastes. The movie chart generally has half a dozen very good movies in the top 10 because people see so many movies that they don’t recommend shit to their friends. I recently met a bloke who at the age of 30 had only read Harry Potter books, and of course, he thought they were great rather than badly plotted dreck.

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