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UK regulators investigating misleading online reviews

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LONDON (AP) — Britain's competition watchdog has launched an investigation into misleading reviews on several big websites amid the surge in online shopping during pandemic lockdown restrictions.

The Competition and Markets Authority said Friday that it will look into how the websites detect, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews.

“During lockdown, we’re more dependent than ever on online shopping, so it’s really important that the online reviews we read are genuine opinions,” said Andrea Coscelli, the authority's chief executive. “If someone is persuaded to buy something after reading a fake or misleading review, they could end up wasting their money on a product or service that wasn’t what they wanted.”

The regulator said one of the issues it's examining is suspicious activity such as single users reviewing an “unlikely range of products or services.” It's also looking at how websites deal with reviews that the reviewer has been paid to review.

The authority didn't disclose which websites it's investigating. It highlighted its previous work with Facebook, Instagram and eBay on the problem. The three sites pledged in January to crack down on the fake review trade removing hundreds of accounts, pages and groups after a warning from the authority.

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