Warning over fake online reviews

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Warning over fake online reviews

Tempted to create a few "fake" positive online reviews of your business to drum up business? It's a breach of the law, warns the ACCC.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned that fake reviews could result in fines of up to $1.1 million.

"Fake online reviews mislead consumers and hurt Australian businesses. Businesses that pay for or post fake reviews can gain an unfair advantage or damage their rivals," said ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper.

"Fake online reviews are in breach of the Australian Consumer Law and businesses are advised not to write or commission reviews about their own business or a competitor's business which are misleading," Dr Schaper added.

Three core principles have been set out by the ACCC:

  • be transparent about commercial relationships,
  • don’t post or publish misleading reviews, and
  • remember that omitting negative reviews can be as misleading as posting fake reviews. 

The ACCC is also concerned about the way some review sites and platforms operate, calling for disclosure of any commercial arrangements between the platforms and reviewed businesses, identification and removal of fake reviews, and disclosure of any incentives for writing reviews.

Another concern in this area is the removal or editing of negative reviews due to a commercial relationship between the platform and the reviewed business.

If you run a business or you operate a reviews site, you can read 'Online reviews - a guide for business & review platforms' which has been published by the Commission. Also click here for some summary guidance about managing online reviews.

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