Amazon investigates claims of bribery, review manipulation

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In order to quash bad feedback, some sellers are offering Amazon employees bribes to obtain bad reviewers' email addresses or to erase the negative review from the site entirely, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Amazon is now investigating claims that some of its workers have shared (or offered to share) confidential internal information with sellers, and also delete negative reviews of products, in exchange for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in this June 8, 2017 illustration photo. The practice is "particularly pronounced in China", the article said.

An Amazon spokesperson said any employee in violation of the code faces possible termination and criminal penalties.

Amazon's automated system ranks the products based on several factors, including the quality of verified reviews, the number of times customers click on a product and its sales volume.

And according to The Wall Street Journal, that's exactly what has been happening.

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This not only allows the sellers to completely have the bad reviews deleted, but also to connect with the customers who leave bad reviews and try to persuade them to adjust or delete the reviews altogether, sometimes offering free products in return.

Reviews are a major factor that Amazon (amzn) takes into account when deciding how prominently to place products in its search results-and search rankings are make-or-break in the e-commerce world.

Third-party brokers allegedly recruit Chinese Amazon employees via apps like WeChat.

Amazon data leak is supposedly letting sellers find a way to delete negative product reviews in turn for a fee.

"More recently we're seeing a lot of alarming reports on the credibility/trustworthiness of reviews on all platforms, not just Amazon", Nura Jabagi, MBA and PhD candidate in Business Technology Management at Columbia University, told Global News.

Of course, then there's the "relatively low salaries" offered by Amazon in China, while working with the brokers to sell internal data or game the system seems to offer a pretty good going rate.

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