Facebook has been accused of failing to stop the sale of fake reviews through its website, more than a month after it was told to crack down on the issue by a UK regulator.

An investigation by Which? found that despite concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Facebook continued to be flooded with fake review groups that try to deceive customers.

The consumer group urged the CMA to take enforcement action against Facebook. It estimated there are be hundreds of groups recruiting writers for fake or incentivised reviews.

Which? researchers joined scores of Facebook review groups during its investigation and found 3,511 new posts had been generated in just one day – and more than 55,000 in a month.

In June, the CMA told Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review after it found “troubling evidence” of a thriving marketplace for fake online reviews.

Which? said the platforms were told to remove and prevent these groups from reappearing. EBay seemed to have largely eradicated listings offering five-star reviews for sale

The number of groups still rife on Facebook raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of its attempts to tackle the growing problem, Which? said.

Natalie Hitchins, the head of products and services at the consumer group, said: “Our latest findings demonstrate that Facebook has systematically failed to take action while its platform continues to be plagued with fake review groups generating thousands of posts a day.

“It is deeply concerning that the company continues to leave customers exposed to poor quality or unsafe products boosted by misleading and disingenuous reviews. Facebook must immediately take steps to not only address the groups that are reported to it, but proactively identify and shut down other groups.”

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We don’t allow people to use Facebook to facilitate or encourage false reviews. We have removed nine of the 10 groups Which? reported to us and are investigating the remaining group.

“We continue to improve our tools to prevent this kind of abuse, including investing in technology and increasing the size of our safety and security team to 30,000.”

George Lusty, the senior director of consumer protection at the CMA, described the Which? revelations as “unacceptable”. He said: “Facebook must take effective steps to deal with this problem by quickly removing the material and stop it from resurfacing.

“This is just the start – we’ll be doing more to tackle fake and misleading online reviews.”


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