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Framework on anvil to curb fake reviews on e-commerce sites

To protect consumer interest, the Centre will develop a framework to keep a check on fake reviews on e-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) will prepare the framework after studying the current mechanism being followed by other e-commerce companies and “best practices available globally”, the Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The decision comes after the ministry and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) held a virtual meeting on Friday with e-commerce companies, along with other stakeholders, to discuss the magnitude and roadmap ahead for fake reviews on such websites.

According to an official statement, the issues discussed during Friday’s meeting included how paid reviews, unverifiable reviews and absence of disclosure in case of incentivised reviews make it challenging for consumers to recognise genuine reviews.

Shopping on e-commerce sites does not allow users an opportunity to physically examine a product which means that consumers rely heavily on product reviews before making a purchase decision.

“Traceability by ensuring the authenticity of the reviewer and the associated liability of the platform are the two key issues here. Also e-comm players must disclose as to how they choose the ‘most relevant reviews’ for display in a fair and transparent manner,” Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, DoCA, said.

E-commerce entities participating in the virtual meeting “agreed that the issue deserves to be monitored closely” and also claimed that they have frameworks in place by which they monitor fake reviews on their sites, the Ministry said.

The companies also showed an interest in participating with the government to come up with the framework, it added. IndianExpress

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