By: Penny Barnes
According to Big Commerce, “astroturfing has been attempted by online businesses who present a product as being highly desired and sought out by a certain customer base via company-sponsored message board posts, blogs or articles when there is no evidence to support such an assertion.” This term plays onto the term “grass roots movement” since the information being provided is fake, they named it “astroturfing.” There have been cases that companies will leave false reviews on a product to endorse their own product and support it by leaving a positive review. As a consumer, this is an unethical of the company to engage in “astroturfing.”
Frequent customers of Amazon have reported that they often receive packages that they did not order. The Amazon package scam is called, “brushing” and the scheme involves some privacy risks and the danger is present. A recent article written by Theo Thimou in 2019 was published on Clark.com to raise awareness of this Amazon scam. The article provides information discussing how this even happens to consumers, and why. This scam means that your name, shipping address and possible phone number has been compromised. It all started in Massachusetts, when a couple received an unwanted phone charging hand warmer. CBS News reported this incident and quoted Kelly explaining what happened to her and her husband, “I went out and picked up the package and Mike’s name was on it. I opened it up and I said, ‘What did you buy this stuff for?’ And he said, ‘I didn’t buy that!'” Kelly told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. It was also reported that there was “no return address for this product,” so the couple took to the media to express their concerns when Michael said, “It indicates that information that’s very close to us, about us is out there circulating around the world.”
But, what is really going on when you receive these unwanted and unordered packages? This allows the seller to pose as a verified purchase to that they can use the review system to review their own product. When a product receives positive reviews, it pushes it up higher on the Amazon search list.
As a consumer of Amazon, it makes it hard to believe what is accurate and what is false information. Astroturfing is extremely unethical and loses trust between the consumer and a company like Amazon. Especially with third party sellers, it will be hard to identify which reviews are true, and which are posed comments.