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Review hijacking takes over Amazon product pages

Review hijacking continues to cause problems for buyers on Amazon. (MyNorthwest photo)

It’s not at all uncommon to buy something on Amazon based entirely on a product’s rating. But that rating can be deceptive, thanks in large part to something called review hijacking.

Essentially, review hijacking is when someone takes positive reviews from other products, and then attaches it to their own product. This is done by exploiting a loophole in Amazon’s back-end, and can cause headaches for the casual buyer in a hurry.

“You may be looking at something like a knife or a charging cable, and we’ll have 4,000 reviews and a really high average review score,” Consumer Reports’ Jake Swearingen told KIRO Radio’s Candy, Mike and Todd Show. “But then, if you actually take the time to read those reviews, you’ll see it’s for things like coffee mugs or air duster, mascara, or sun tan lotion, all kinds of things.”

This is a problem that’s been largely unique to Amazon, with companies like Walmart and Target remaining mostly untouched. And across the platform, it’s seen thousands of reviews on any given product being hijacked.

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“In one case, I found a product went from having over 4,400 reviews down to 43 reviews,” said Swearingen.

In terms of ensuring that review hijacking doesn’t continue to cause issues, there’s something of a disconnect between what Amazon says they’re doing, and what’s actually occurring.

The company touts $400 million it spent on consumer protection to combat the issue. But between what Swearingen has heard from former employees, and spot checks on various product reviews, it’s clear that there’s still a long way to go.

“The common refrain is that it’s really difficult to get Amazon to resolve this problem, and that there doesn’t seem to be enough being done right now to solve it,” he noted. ” … it took me an afternoon in a coffee shop to find over a dozen examples of this review hijacking.”

In the meantime, Swearingen is encouraging people to Tweet at Amazon using the hashtag #stopreviewhijacking, to raise awareness on social media.

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