Meta has filed a new lawsuit in California over the use of fake reviews on Facebook, targeting a specific fake review seller who it says had sought to manipulate its systems to benefit its customers.
In the new suit, Meta says that Chad Taylor Cowan, who had been operating as ‘Customer Feedback Score Solutions’, provided fake reviews and feedback for businesses, with the intention of artificially increasing their Facebook Customer Feedback Score.
“Meta analyzes feedback on an ongoing basis to understand people’s experiences on our technologies. As a part of this work, some people receive surveys after clicking on ads to help understand whether the quality of the product they purchased met their expectations, the shipping was timely, and to learn more about their customer service experience. This survey data, along with other information, informs a business’ Customer Feedback Score.”
Businesses that receive a significant amount of negative feedback can then face enforcement measures, including ad restrictions, financial penalties or disabling accounts.
Customer Feedback Solutions aimed to manipulate this process to benefit its clients.
“Cowan used a network of fraudulent and hired Facebook user accounts to provide fake customer reviews to artificially increase Customer Feedback Scores, drown out and minimize negative reviews, and avoid our enforcement. These actions create poor experiences for people who see these ads, deceptively influencing and misleading our community. This is also a direct violation of Meta’s Terms, Advertising and Page Policies, as well as California law.”
It’s the first time that Meta has targeted fake review sellers specifically, though it has been steadily increasing its overall legal enforcement efforts over the past few years. Meta has also launched various lawsuits against companies selling Likes and followers, which is along a similar vein, but reviews haven’t been a key focus – though earlier this year, Amazon launched legal action against two companies that had allegedly acted as fake-review brokers on its platform.
That may have opened the door for more enforcement action on this front, with the Amazon cases potentially acting as legal precedent for such, and as Meta looks to introduce more eCommerce and brand recommendation tools into its apps, it makes sense for it to take action now to address this element.
The case will likely take some time, but it’ll be interesting to see what legal decisions come from these new actions against those selling fake online reviews.