E-tail behemoth Amazon recently filed a lawsuit against Jay Gentile, a California resident offering positive Amazon reviews for a price, otherwise known as “astroturfing”. Gentile offered his service via the domain name “buyazonreviews.com”, among others. Here is how the operation worked in a nutshell: Mom and pop widget company desires four and five star reviews in order to increase consumer confidence and sales; Gentile’s service provides the widget seller with canned 4 and 5 star reviews over a period of months, so that the reviews appear legitimate and avoid Amazon’s review screening filter; and the reviews cost mom and pop about $20 per review. Gentile’s company even went so far as to allegedly orchestrate phony baloney sales in order to achieve “verified” review status.
Quite naturally, Amazon isn’t too happy about all of this. Consequently, Amazon deployed one of its go to law firms to attack Gentile in Court. The problem is, I’m not too sure that Amazon’s lawsuit is legally viable, however, it does have significant strategic and practical value. Because of this, I think it is likely to serve as an astroturfing deterrent.