Fake reviews on eCommerce websites would soon run into a wall

With fake reviews flooding eCommerce platforms, it has become imperative to set up a framework to monitor posts

Once you are on an eCommerce website to pick something you want, what would you normally do first? Most people check out the reviews of the products they want to buy on the website, right? And, relying so much on reviews posted by strangers has become a norm of sorts these days.

But then, how would you know the reviews you depend upon to pick your product are indeed genuine ones by genuine buyers who have tried using the product? The fact is that there isn’t any mechanism to ascertain whether the reviews are genuine or fake.

In this context, the Union government is now bringing in a framework that will keep a watch over fake reviews posted on eCommerce websites. The move by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) comes after studies on the present mechanism being followed by the eCommerce platforms in the country and also the best practices available globally. The DoCA will set up a framework on the basis of the studies conducted in this regard.

Parleys held with eCommerce firms, other stakeholders

DoCA, in association with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) along with various stakeholders like eCommerce entities, Consumer Forums, Law Universities, Lawyers, FICCI, CII, Consumer Rights Activists and others, has already held parleys about the magnitude and roadmap ahead for fake reviews on websites, the department has revealed.

Taking into account the fact that eCommerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to physically view or examine the product, consumers heavily rely on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms to see the opinion and experience of users who have already purchased the good or service. This is the scenario that has made DoCA look for a new framework to check fake reviews.

Reviewer authenticity to be ensured

According to Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, traceability by ensuring the authenticity of the reviewer and the associated liability of the platform are the two key issues here. Also eCommerce players will have to disclose as to how they choose the most relevant reviews for display in a fair and transparent manner, he added.

The meeting in this regard saw all stakeholders giving the thumbs up to the move stating that the issue deserves to be monitored closely and appropriate framework governing the fake reviews may be developed to address the issue for protection of consumer interest. In the meantime, stakeholders from eCommerce companies have claimed that they have frameworks in place by which they monitor fake reviews and would be pleased to take part in developing a legal framework on the issue.

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