Those glowing reviews on Amazon.com that seem a little made-up? The online mega-retailer is finally cracking down, deleting thousands of reviews that strike a phony chord for one reason or another, the New York Times reports. Amazon isn't divulging its deletion policy, but reviews by friends and family have been stricken from the site. Reviews that admit to not having read a book, however, are not. Predictably, the months-long purge has sparked a debate among reviewers, authors, and their fans. "Customer buys book because of fake review = zero harm," wrote mystery writer JA Konrath on his blog.
One author was surprised to see a review by a longtime fan deleted: "How does Amazon know we know each other?" said Michelle Gagnon. "That's where I started to get creeped out." The debate is also highlighting the inner workings of Amazon's reviewing world, where a chef like Timothy Ferris can get dozens of quick reviews by sending books to fans and inviting them via social media to post reviews. There's also a campaign against Amazon's best-known reviewer, Harriet Klausner, who has posted more than 25,000 reviews—most of them glowing. Says one aspiring writer: "There are so many fake reviews that I’m often better off just walking into a physical store and picking an item off the shelf at random."