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Amazon has purged over 5,700 top reviewers over last 2 years

By Cal Jeffrey · 22 replies
Oct 30, 2018
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  1. The subreddit called r/TheGreatAmazonPurge tracks account deletions using a script (bot) that analyzes Amazon’s top 10,000 reviewers list and registers deletions when it notices an account with zero reviews. This indicates the account has been banned or purged.

    Generally, reviewers are expunged if they are caught breaking the terms of service. Most of these breaches come from by providing false reviews.

    The bot has been running daily for the last two years, so it’s easy to track trends in Amazon’s deletion practices. For example, there was a spike in the daily rate of purges starting in late 2017 and continuing through the spring of this year.

    Business Insider looked into this mass deletion and discovered a whole “subculture” where reviewers trade positive reviews for special deals and discounts.

    “According to conversations Business Insider had with 29 different Amazon shoppers and sellers, a subculture geared towards driving sales through reviews has arisen on the site, and some are using underhanded tactics — including sharing discount codes and sending shoppers free products in exchange for reviews — to do so.”

    Deletions dipped during the summer, but have begun increasing again lately. Many of the banned account holders complain that they had no idea what was going on and that they never knowingly did anything against the rules. Amazon said that it would work with reviewers who thought they had been wrongly purged, but maintains that it takes review fraud seriously and is going to continue to hold “bad actors” accountable.

    “We take this responsibility seriously and defend the integrity of reviews by taking aggressive action to protect customers from dishonest parties who attempt to abuse the reviews system,” an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider. “We take forceful action against both reviewers and bad actors by banning or suppressing reviews that violate our guidelines, regardless of top reviewer status, and suspend, ban or pursue legal action against bad actors, regardless of sales performance.”

    The review process is there to help both the consumer and the seller. Reviews help the buyer make informed purchasing decisions. In turn, they provide sellers with a way to market a good product — the more positive reviews a seller has, the higher they appear in search results.

    However, the system only works if buyers can trust the reviews, so Amazon is very strict and will not stand for fraudulent reviews. As long as everybody is honest, it’s a win-win.

    Permalink to story.

  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,508   +2,207

    There are thousands of Chinese click farms selling their review-skewing services. Hopefully most of those banned were pay-for-upvote accounts.
    TempleOrion, Cubi Dorf and Clamyboy74 like this.
  3. MaXtor

    MaXtor TS Maniac Posts: 234   +166

    Amazon is full of fake reviews. I always tell everyone to use fakespot.com before buying anything on Amazon. It's an awesome site to check what the real rating of a product is by filtering out fake and bot generated reviews.
  4. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,350   +400

    Amazon reviews have always looked pretty shady. And their inferior counterfeit products can be a real problem. Good news for Ebay.
  5. pit1209

    pit1209 TS Enthusiast Posts: 34   +34

    Did not know about that, thank you. Downloaded the add-on for Firefox.
    MaXtor likes this.
  6. George Hilbert

    George Hilbert TS Rookie

    Anyone being an "Amazon top reviewer" seems just a little fishy. Why would anyone want to hang around Amazon doing enough reviews to land "on top"?
    TempleOrion likes this.
  7. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,655   +591

    Our engine has discovered that over 90% high quality reviews are present.


    Our engine has discovered that over 90% high quality reviews are present.
    This product had a total of 4 reviews on Oct 31 2018.
    How are reviewers describing this item?
    x, poor, ok, worth and high.

    Maybe needs 1000 reviews to be accurate
    TempleOrion likes this.
  8. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Maniac Posts: 315   +243

    That's pretty funny.

    It needs a bunch of reviews to be statistically significant. But, based on some basic Bayesian assumptions, the more reviews it has the more accurate it will be.

    Making the site pretty worthless.
  9. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 657   +317

    I hope it is a joke because I laughed.
    treetops likes this.
  10. BigBoomBoom

    BigBoomBoom TS Enthusiast Posts: 47   +47

    Ouch, and here I usually check Benson Leung when it comes to USB-C. Good news he kinda stopped?
  11. FPSChris

    FPSChris TS Enthusiast Posts: 62   +26


    Amazon in a nutshell
  12. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 119   +48

    Amazon is good place to buy China brand products. Not just made in China product like sell at walmart.
  13. Junglist724

    Junglist724 TS Rookie

    Amazon reviews suck, and merchants/brands have too much power over them. Thrustmaster got me banned from reviewing any of their products on Amazon just because I left a negative review.
  14. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Addict Posts: 199   +127

    Holy Harriet Klausner?!?! Say it isn't so?!?!
  15. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,350   +400

    Really it is good news for Ebay
    Really though it should help Ebay but after talking to my relatives over the years Ebay is to "confusing". That's why Amazon pwned Ebay. Amazon actually used to be a lot like Ebay, now it's all big business's at the top of the search results.
  16. MaXtor

    MaXtor TS Maniac Posts: 234   +166

    Yeah unfortunately it's not going to be very useful with 4 reviews, neither are those 4 reviews on their own without using fakespot. 30+ reviews is usually enough I would think. :)
  17. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,655   +591

    Useless. 90% high quality? Can't be. 0, 25, 50, 75 or 100% are the only choices. So coming up with 90?
  18. MaXtor

    MaXtor TS Maniac Posts: 234   +166

    Not necessarily. It is using an algorithm to determine the likeliness of a review being fake. So if one of those 4 reviews has a 40% chance of being fake, then the overall quality is 90%.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  19. stockjock

    stockjock TS Rookie

    In my view, it’s not so much Amazon “cracking down” as it is a flaw in their software that’s giving the boot/restricting innocent customers.

    I mean, do you truly believe that roughly 5,800 out of the Top 10,000 reviewers are writing fraudulent reviews? Of course not.

    Also, understand that the Reddit PurgeBot only catches deleted reviewers who have zero reviews remaining. In many cases, including mine (twice), they left 1 review remaining, so I don't show up in those numbers. Guessing there are thousands of others not showing up for the same reason.

    Let me tell you what is actually going on in many cases. There is a flaw or bug in Amazon's software or algorithm that labels many or all verified reviews (purchased directly from Amazon) as unverified. It then dishes out a variety of warnings on these "unverified reviews", which again are verified. Soon after, it begins to warn the user about bias, even though they're typically only reviewing items purchased from Amazon.

    Ultimately, it blocks the reviewer entirely and strips them of all reviews. If they are a Vine member, like me, it kicks them out of the program, with prejudice (not welcome to return).
    That's exactly what happened to me.

    At first, I was told everything was fine and not to worry about it. But the warnings got worse and worse, as described, to the point where I was banned from reviewing and kicked out of Vine.

    I politely challenged it, as I had done nothing wrong, and Amazon found in my favor. Shortly thereafter, I received 4 messages from Review Moderators. 3 said that I was cleared and reinstated. The 4th said I had violated community standards and would not be discussed further.


    Got that cleared up, but days later, the same nonsense warnings about bias and unverified reviews began, again on items bought directly through Amazon.

    As an example, I bought a floor lamp from Amazon that got poor reviews. I felt the reviews were inaccurate and I really liked the lamp. So I gave it a great review. I then got an immediate warning about "unverified reviews", was suspended for a week, and later had all review rights and Vine membership revoked.

    While I'm in the USA, there is a UK unofficial Amazon Vine forum. They did a poll and approximately 50% of members had their review rights cancelled, all reviews deleted (11 years worth, in my case), and removal from the Vine program. Most were ultimately reinstated, but not all. Some like me, and others, have been given the boot for the 2nd time in weeks even though the matter was recently investigated and found in our favor.

    In fact, I've seen people get the boot who have never written a single review. They just logged in one day and saw the warning that they had exhibited bias and were banned for violating "community standards".

    I contacted Amazon almost 2 weeks ago and still have not received a reply. I am hopeful that I'll hear back soon and that they will once again find in my favor.

    But it's important to understand that I believe many or perhaps a great many (most or even the vast majority) of these bannings are faulty and improper. Their system is incorrectly identifying legitimate reviews as "non-verified" or "biased" and then the system shuts them down.

    It's quite frustrating and I hope that they resolve this issue soon. They should agree that it's unfair to treat their customers in this way when they plainly don't deserve it.

    The general tone of the article seems to have been "Isn't it great that Amazon is cracking down on fraudulent reviewers?!" It should be, "Amazon is running faulty algorithms that is resulting in the bannings of thousands of innocent reviewers". Perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands, since the PurgeBot only tracks the top 10,000. Could they have banned over 1,000,000? I think that's a legitimate possibility.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
    TempleOrion and Toju Mikie like this.
  20. BobHome

    BobHome TS Enthusiast Posts: 48   +20

    For the same reason so many have to check the social media for how many Likes they got?
    TempleOrion likes this.
  21. flyboydale54

    flyboydale54 TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Amazon, well her is my comment. After placing an order through Amazon, I have been plagued with numberous daily phone calls trying to sell me something in one way or another. They even circumnavigate the BOT, Robotic Caller, and Telemarketer Features on my phone system. This just plain is totally unacceptable. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who sold my name, seeing how I rarely got any phone calls prior to my order. My phone blocking features worked fine until I placed an order through Amazon. Since doctor's offices, hospitals, or medical facilities do not get blocked, they have been asking if a person who lives in the household is hearing impared, has pain, or other medical questions, to get their foot in the door and to be able to circumnavigate the phone blocking features. You Suck Amazon and this is my last order from you. I hope you enjoyed the profits from selling my information. I urge everyone not to order from Amazon because of this. Shop your local stores instead. For one, you will have a store to continually shop at and Amazon will not be able to put them out of business if nobody orders from Amazon. Secondly, this will give investors a loss in their stock investments, and thirdly, this will put local people to work and the money will stay in the states you live in. Taxes will be less by patronizing locally. Please DO NOT BUY From AMAZON.
  22. Jose Ortiz

    Jose Ortiz TS Rookie

    I ordered a "Three dimensional curved glass screen protector" that had about 100 reviews, 4.5/5 recently.

    Instead, I received a flat, 2-dimensional screen protector that used a "black border" to hide where it didn't stick to the curved phone face.

    I looked closer at the reviews - ALL FAKE. They weren't even reviews for the same product. They looked like real reviews that had been "migrated" to this fake product.

    I left a REAL review, and really bad one. I exposed everything, with excellent photos.

    Within 12 hours, the seller hired someone to post 150 more reviews, including six fake negative reviews (there were no negative reviews before mine!)

    Guess what: The negative reviews were all upvoted, so they were hiding my real review.

    I called Amazon, and reported this seller, who is just one of hundreds on Amazon that buy in bulk horrible counterfeit or generic chinese products through Alibaba, and stick fake logos and fake brand names and flood the market through many virtual accounts to confuse consumers. With any luck, they will be forced to start another account *facepalm*.

    Its a hideous, and frankly illegal practice. However, nobody, not even Amazon, appears to be cracking down. Purging 5000 fake reviewers is NOTHING. Purge 50,000 fake SELLERS and PRODUCTS, and then you might get somewhere.

    These sellers should be systematically recorded, logged, and charged in a single massive federal lawsuit.
  23. stockjock

    stockjock TS Rookie

    Most of those getting banned are NOT fake. I'm a great example. Sure, there are some fake reviews, but figure about 60% of the top 10,000 have been banned, so we're likely looking at millions in Amazon's system. No one supports fake reviews, but the problem is that HUGE amounts of legitimate reviewers are getting banned.

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