Amazon Deletes Thousands of 'Fake' Reviews
Online purge sparks debate among authors and fans
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2012 4:34 PM CST
A screen capture from a book's page on Amazon.com.   (Amazon.com)

(Newser) – 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."

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
justme001
Dec 28, 2012 9:44 PM CST
How can one person do 25000 reviews? I do not think that is possible to do that many reviews! Even just to look at the cover and write a review on 25000 books would be hard!
Winston_Smith
Dec 25, 2012 6:47 AM CST
"Customer buys book because of fake review = zero harm" This kind of statement exemplifies the disdain for their customers that many "creative people" seem to have. If I waste my time and money on a book/movie/CD that I don't like, there's zero harm? What is the purpose of the book/movie/CD, Mr. Kornuth? Are we nothing more than revenue streams to you? And if we don't buy a book from a better author, simply because he doesn't spend as much time trading five-star reviews with his "friends" as one of your hack buddies, then there is zero harm to him? Of course, I really shouldn't be too hard on Kornuth personally, he's only saying out loud what thousands of other "artists" feel, but are astute enough not to say in public.
Winston_Smith
Dec 25, 2012 6:38 AM CST
Amazon.com reviews are not as useful as they were ten years ago, for exactly the reasons given; too many five-star sock-puppet reviews. Their new initiative isn't perfect, but it's better than nothing.