200,000 Amazon users and 13 million messages exchanged with sellers on the platform are to blame. 7 GB of plain text that has revealed what was already common knowledge : on Amazon there is a dynamic of misleading product reviews, perfectly organized, in which manufacturers give products to those who leave them a positive review to be able to capture more future sales.
The brown of the month has been eaten by Amazon, which now will have to put out the public relations fire and wait for all of us to forget about it a bit, but online ratings and opinions is an endemic and ubiquitous problem where few can get chest. A symphony composed by those who devised the beginnings of the Internet, when innocence made us think that every good idea would turn out well, and that trileros 2.0 have degenerated into brass bands.
Between extortion and buying by the peso
The best example of the magnitude of this problem is given by the fact that it is not limited to newly created brands that need a prestige with which to start selling, but even electronics brands such as Aukey or Mpow are on the hook (and Amazon you have ended up removing them from your platform ). Two brands that always appear in searches when we want a charger or aquatic headphones.
In reality, although they appear on the deception list, they are still victims in a certain way of a system that suffocates the one who does not go through the hoop. If you do not enter the wheel, you will see how your neighbors are more handsome in the photo and take your sales. On the other side of the plot, people who agree to be part of the deception to keep a free wireless charger. And the buyer who has relied on those comments is now left with the same face as the cows when they see the train go by.
On the platforms for evaluating hospitality businesses we are tired of seeing comments such as “delicious food, good price, cozy place, the waiter made a tired face when I called him for the ninth time; two stars”. Or “after spending 25 euros they didn’t even want to buy us shots; a star.” Unfair Comments from That Kind of People ™. The system starts from the premise that everyone is fair enough to express an honest and fair opinion. We already see the result.
Nor is it something recent. In 2012, Paco Nadal, a travel critic at El País, wrote a prophetic article: ‘Either you give me something, or I give you negative comments.’ There he told how several clients demanded to pay less or extend their stay for free under the threat of pouring negative reviews about their business on Tripadvisor, a platform that was investigated by British regulators in 2011 due to the proliferation of false reviews. In its favor, it must be said that it has been introducing various control mechanisms to prevent abuse, but it goes as far as it goes. The best remedy, courageous owners who stand up and at least get us a laugh.
Apple and Google app stores, more of the same. False positive reviews that are bought by weight have proliferated and thus given legitimacy to applications such as those that promise 3D animated wallpapers to a level impossible to achieve, and less via app. Those that just open them plant a weekly subscription of ten euros with all the tricks in the world to camouflage it and then they are useless. The underlying problem is the stores that allow the existence of these apps, but the review system, often unable to detect the purchases, inspires confidence in these apps for the user.
Inaction of the platforms, traps of the interested parties or human pettiness. The results are the same: legitimacy for those who do not deserve it, downward valuations due to disproportionate demands. Gentleman, you have paid nine euros for a daily menu, what gift are you waiting for?
The digital and physical environments go hand in hand: the opinion system is a necessary evil, something that in the middle of 2021 continues to need improvements but nobody knows quite how to carry them out. According to what needs we have the option of looking for a direct source in which we have confidence, but for others we do not have such an option. And we have to entrust ourselves to the fact that the criticisms that seem most honest to us are made in good faith.