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Amazon’s New Privacy Settings Enable Reviewers to Hide their Dishonest Reviews

November 1st, 2016

One of our core beliefs here at ReviewMeta is transparency.  We feel that making more information available will help the consumer, while deliberately hiding information will have the inverse effect.

For example, being able to see a reviewer’s full history is necessary to get a feel for their trustworthiness.  If they give EVERYTHING a glowing 5-star review, you might take their review with a grain of salt.  If they only reviewed products by one particular brand, maybe they have a relationship they aren’t disclosing.  If they reviewed nothing but selfie sticks, maybe they aren’t a real customer.

Amazon recently allowed reviewers to hide all or any specific reviews from their public profile.  The review will still show up on the product page, but will be completely hidden on the reviewer’s profile page.

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While this new feature obviously helps honest reviewers maintain and control their privacy, it also enables dishonest reviewers to abuse the feature and essentially custom-tailor their profile to appear like an ordinary, honest reviewer.  There is even an option to hide all reviews on your profile, completely eliminating anyone from getting any sense about what kind of reviewer you are.

Amazon already hides reviews of “sensitive” products by default.

Amazon sells all kinds of products, including some very intimate items you wouldn’t want anyone knowing that you purchased, let alone reviewed.  By default, Amazon hides your reviews for these products in your public profile page already:

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To us, this is good enough.  Why take it a step further and open the gates for some serious abuse?

ReviewMeta still can get an accurate picture of reviewers.

This change doesn’t really impact us here at ReviewMeta.  In fact, it makes our tool that much more valuable.  Because we collect tens of millions of product reviews, we can piece together a reviewer’s history even if they hide it on their profile.  While we aren’t going to show you all the sensitive products they reviewed, we can still show you some important stats, like their average rating, how often they are reviewing the same brand, the number of reviews and more.

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While we’ve applauded some recent changes that Amazon made to their platform (such as banning incentivized reviews), this one seems to be a step in the wrong direction for savvy consumers.