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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been working alongside Facebook to target fake and misleading reviews – a practice that is illegal in the UK. Over 16,000 groups have been removed to date, a number that is likely to increase following the introduction of new legislation.
If you are accused of leaving a fake or misleading review, you could be charged under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. If this has happened to you, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors for free legal advice.
Fake and misleading reviews – the law explained
Currently, the law does not specifically prevent the publication of fake or misleading reviews. However, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 does prohibit unfair commercial practices. Fake and misleading reviews fall under this definition, as the practice is deemed to be unfair – both to business owners and to consumers. This is because many people make their purchasing decisions based on customer reviews. A fake review that is negative may result in an honest business losing out on a sale. On the other hand, a fake review that is positive may cause a consumer to purchase a product that is not right for them.
Facebook and fake reviews
Fake and misleading reviews can be found across the internet. Now, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is taking action to combat the problem and has targeted its focus on social media giant Facebook.
At the start of 2020, Facebook agreed to “better identify, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews.” Following that pledge, 188 groups were removed from Facebook and 24 user accounts were disabled.
However, the CMA remained dissatisfied, having received reports that fake and misleading reviews are still appearing on both Facebook and Instagram (the latter of which is owned by Facebook). The CMA intervened once again, this time leading to another 16,000 groups being removed from Facebook.
Facebook has made further changes to its systems to remove and prevent fake and misleading reviews. These changes include:
- Suspending or banning users who repeatedly create groups to promote, encourage or facilitate fake and misleading reviews
- Introducing automated processes to improve detection and removal of the content
- Making it harder for search tools to be used to find these groups
The CMA is also making organizational changes and plans to set up a ‘Digital Markets Unit’ as soon as possible. In addition, new legislation is due to be introduced in England and Wales. This will govern the behavior of platforms that enable reviews, such as Facebook.
With the CMA committed to clamping down on fake and misleading reviews, and new legislation on the way, we anticipate an increase in prosecutions under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
If you have been caught up in allegations of fake or misleading reviews, contact us now for a free initial inquiry.
Call 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.