Govt Wants To End Fake Reviews On Ecommerce Portals: Framework, Guidelines To Be Drafted
The government wants to crack down on fake reviews and unverified star ratings on e-commerce websites, hotel and travel booking platforms.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh broke the news.
Preying on vulnerable consumers
The matter has become a significant one since e-commerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity for buyers to physically view or examine the product.
As a result, they heavily rely on reviews posted on platforms, placing trust on the publishers of the reviews to be truthful.
This is where fake reviews and star ratings come in.
They mislead consumers into buying online products and services.
Developing relevant frameworks
To counteract this, Singh said the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has finalized frameworks after studying the present mechanism being followed by the e-commerce entities in India and best practices available globally.
“After consultation with stakeholders, we have finalized frameworks to counter fake reviews.
The BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) has also come out with a standard.
The frameworks for fake review management will be published next week,” he told PTI.
India 1st country to tackle problem officially
Major e-commerce platforms, including Zomato, Swiggy, Tata Sons, Reliance Retail, Meta and Amazon, were some of the stakeholders to participate in the committee along with BIS.
He says that India could become the first country to have developed frameworks for fake review management.
“Initially, it will be voluntary and gradually will be made mandatory,” he added.
Stakeholders from e-commerce companies have claimed they already have frameworks in place by which they monitor fake reviews.
The new guidelines will come into effect from November 25.
Officials to moderate reviews
The government has instituted a new standard titled “IS 19000:2022” under the BIS.
According to this, platforms will have to have review administrators who will have to moderate reviews using tools or manually to filter biased or fraudulent reviews.
The reviews published should include the publishing date and ratings.
Curbs on offenders, platforms
Consumers posting the reviews will not be allowed to edit their review once live and cannot use foul language.
E-commerce platforms will have to ensure customers giving fake reviews are prohibited from posting reviews in the future.
If fake reviews are still found despite adhering to the guidelines, the platform will be penalized for unfair trading practices upon which a consumer court can take penal action.