Amazon has updated its terms of service in an effort to combat ‘incentivised reviews’.
Incentivised reviews – customer reviews of a product that was received for free or at a discount in exchange for an online write-up – only make up a "tiny fraction" of the site, but studies have shown that incentivised reviewers are less likely to give negative write-ups which potentially can boost sales of less than stellar items.
The company says that it will support incentivised reviews through the Vine program. The program was set up in 2007 in an attempt to offer a less biased review system and allows retailers to pay Amazon to distribute its products to trusted reviewers. Vine does not incentivise positive feedback and Amazon limits the amount of Vine reviews shown.
This is not the first time that Amazon has struggled to manage its reviews, having previously gone after companies that abuse its system and suing individuals who offered reviews in exchange for cash on freelance job sites.
This news comes after a damning report from ReviewMeta claimed that these types of reviewers are "12 times less likely to give a 1-star rating than non-incentivized reviews, and almost 4 times less likely to leave a critical review in general". While the report was published in July, a video illustrating the findings went viral on Reddit last month.
Amazon’s vice-president of customer experience, Chee Chew has said that the company intends on altering and improving the Vine program in order to "continue to make Vine an even more useful program going forward", but says that details aren’t concrete right now.