The announcement that the Italian Competition Authority are investigating TripAdvisor over fake reviews is the latest in a growing number of legal initiatives that seek to ensure fair play and accuracy in information being provided to consumers.
Authorities around the world are recognising that website businesses carrying reviews and complaints are hugely influential when it comes to consumer choice - and that they must therefore have systems in place that reflect the responsibility of such influence.
Every test that KwikChex has thus far carried out has shown that there are huge problems for sites that carry unverified reviews in identifying fraud. The claims by many such companies of 'sophisticated systems; to fight review fraud do not measure up against the reality of such tests.
Only recently KwikChex discovered a massive hole in TripAdvisor's systems that enabled a few fraudsters to use their Chinese site to load over 10,000 fake reviews on to TripAdvisor's global site network. See link for details:
Our latest research, to be published shortly, continues to demonstrate that there are still major and basic failings.
KwikChex has previously worked with other governments on these issues and with various authorities such as the UK Advertising Standards Authority - link here http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-16823012 - and have offered their expertise and evidence to the Italian authorities.
Reviews sites are increasingly under pressure to act more diligently. It is in the interest of consumers that they do so.
The authorities must be very careful to focus on achievable improvement and avoid any stifling or free speech and honest opinion - and there is much that can be done to create a better balance.
The danger for the reviews sites is that old laws are being updated - and if they do not act quickly they will find themselves potentially overwhelmed by all manner of claims from both reputable businesses unjustly accused and rogues attempting to hide their poor standards. A similar situation started to occur after a recent ruling against Google in the European Court of Justice - see link http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27388289
In the meantime. KwikChex continues to lead the way globally in exposing reviews fraudsters and to successfully assist businesses and individuals untruthfully and maliciously attacked on the Internet.