Over the last several years, steps have been taken by Amazon to crack down on fake paid reviews on its marketplace. Over 1,000 individuals have been sued by Amazon, and websites and buyers have been accused of dealing in fake reviews. Amazon is now saying that incentivized reviews will only be available through the Amazon Vine program.
Previous to this week’s change, incentivized reviews from users who received free or discounted products have been allow, so long as the incentive was disclosed in the review. Amazon says these review-for-product reviews “make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products.”
Vine was originally launched back in 2007, and it provided publishers and manufacturers access to a panel of independent reviewers for their products. These reviewers, who are called Vine Voices, are selected by Amazon based on their previously submitted reviews. The company will send products to the individuals, and manufacturers don’t have any contact with the reviewers. The idea behind this paid service is to be tailored towards generating reviews for newer products that haven’t sold enough products to gain reviews organically.
At this point in time, the change won’t affect books, and authors and publishers will continue to be allowed to send advance review copies of books.
It’s being hinted by Amazon that updates to Vine will be coming to make it “an even more useful program going forward.”