Amazon has taken several steps over the past year to crack down on fake paid reviews on its marketplace. The company has sued over 1,000 individuals and websites and buyers accused of dealing in fake reviews. Now, Amazon says, incentivized reviews will only be available through the Amazon Vine program.
Until this week’s change, incentivized reviews from users who received a free or discounted product have been allowed as long as the incentive was disclosed in the review. Amazon says these review-for-product reviews “make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products”.
Amazon launched Vine in 2007 to provide publishers and manufacturers access to a panel of independent reviewers for their products. The reviewers, called Vine Voices, are selected by Amazon based on the reviews they’ve submitted in the past. The company sends products to the individuals, and manufacturers have no contact with the reviewers. The paid service is particularly tailored to generating reviews for newer products that haven’t sold enough products to gain reviews organically.
The change will not affect books at this time. Authors and publishers will continue to be allowed to send advanced review copies of books.
Amazon is also hinting that updates to Vine will be coming to make it “an even more useful program going forward”.