Amazon has become the standard model for C2C and B2C ecommerce in the world. Its success has inspired many clones and duplicates but none could come close to the revenues and popularity of Amazon.

Amazon, in keeping with its standing on the web, has been the source of startling news over the years. The latest controversy that rocked Amazon’s boat came near the start of 2013 when it was announced that Amazon will be looking closely to the user reviews being posted on its websites. Later it was clarified that Amazon will also evaluate the comments already posted for various categories, particularly the literature category.

Literature and Fiction categories have been exposed earlier as one of the greatest repositories of fake reviews. These reviews included both the reviews that the sellers have posted themselves and the reviews that were paid for by the sellers and posted by third parties.

The sag of GettingBookReviews.Com highlighted the issue and started a vigorous probe by Amazon’s staff. It was discovered that sellers, particularly self-published authors are actively padding the review sections and gimmicking the rating system to attract buyers. This was a clear violation of the Amazon’s T&S.

However, in the end of 2012, it was discovered that the problem is much bigger and wide spread than previously anticipated. Many categories, including electronics contained fake reviews that actively promoted products.

The question that has plagued Amazon in particular and ecommerce experts in general is:

How to spot a fake review?

A well written fake review is practically indistinguishable from a real one. What is more disbursing is the fact that a real review is often highlighted as spam, because of the way people write reviews. This is one of the greatest obstacles in developing an automated spam killing mechanism for websites like Amazon.

People write broken sentences in poorly worded language. English is not the first language of some of the Amazon’s buyers. This is another source of errors in which a real review is marked as fake.

The greatest problem for Amazon

The greatest problem for Amazon is what it purported as its greatest strengths; anonymity.

Amazon encourages signup by not validating the user with any follow-up proof of identity. Signing up on Amazon is similar to signing up for an email account with any of the popular webmail services. The webmail companies encourage anonymous signups because a new account is another opportunity for pushing advertising spam. Amazon operates on a very different model and thus need a different signup system. The current system of getting a webmail account and then signing up for an Amazon account is an open invitation for spammers and review sellers.

If amazon is serious about reducing review spam, it should start with implementing a better signup and user validation system.