Creating Fake Reviews

Creating Fake Reviews

Creating fake reviews is often a part of BHSEO strategy to receive backlinks.[1] Nowadays, it is easy to outsource SEO jobs to India, Bangladesh, Philippines or China. Many SEO experts from the micro job markets in third world countries will write fake reviews for a small fee ranging from one to ten dollars. They may also provide reviews even though they have not used the products or services.[2] They get backlinks from high PR sites so that they attract more traffic to websites, which is an important factor in terms of SEO strategy. Such actions including paid tweeting, are also arguably example of misleading or deceptive conduct under section 18 of the ACL.

 

Examples of where such behaviour has been deemed misleading or deceptive conduct include the conduct of the South Australian Tourist Commission when they paid celebrities to tweet their followers as if they had visited Kangaroo Island and had a good time even though they had not been to Kangaroo Island as claimed. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’) said that celebrities do not have a duty to disclose paid sponsorships but such endorsements should not mislead people or make people think that celebrities have been somewhere if they have not.[3] Also, the ACCC took legal action against CityMove, which was penalised for a total of $30,600 because they had fabricated customer testimonials on Google Plus and YouTube.[4]  These examples clearly shows that SEO companies which provide fake reviews for their clients (small business owners) are in breach of section 18 of the ACL if the fake review mislead consumers and cause loss or damages as a result of the deceptive conduct.

 

In Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v P & N Pty Ltd,[5]  the Federal Court concluded that P & N Pty Ltd and P & N NSW Pty Ltd, which were trading under the name of "Euro Solar" and Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing Pty Ltd (‘WEMA’) which was known as "Australian Solar Panel", were liable for a penalty of $125,000 for their misleading and deceptive conduct. The court found that the company published fake testimonials as well as fake reviews on YouTube, testimonials and review which were not written by genuine customers of the companies. Also, the court added that the representation by P & N Pty Ltd and P & N NSW Pty Ltd was misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive as the solar panels were made in Australia in fact they were made in China.

 

Read more here: https://www.amazon.com/SEO-Law-Australian-Intellectual-companies/dp/0995380112/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482204283&sr=8-1&keywords=seo+law


 

[1]Matt McGee, SEO Companies Fined Over Fake Reviews (23 September 2013) <http://searchengineland.com/seo-companies-fined-over-fake-reviews-172526 >. One of the most common ways to get quality backlinks from the niche markets (narrow group) to pay online community owners, bloggers or webmasters to write promotional articles about products, or positive reviews of products or services.

[2] The common platforms that they leave reviews on are Amazon, Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

[3] Mark Pearson and Mark Polden, The Journalist's Guide to Media Law: A handbook for communicators in a digital world (Allen & Unwin, 2014), 462.

[4] Frank Chung, ACCC cracks down on fakes reviews (30 July 2015) <http://www.news.com.au/finance/small-business/accc-cracks-down-on-fake-reviews/news-story/eb8d6c1fc7a2599a4ed4ec26ffe9fb2a>. This was in addition to a previous penalty of $6,600 they received in 2011, for publishing false testimonials on the website movingreview.com.au which is created by CityMove.

[5] Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v P & N Pty Ltd [2014] FCA 6.

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