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Amazon blocks reviewers if they’re connected to the author… but how do they know?

Amazon is digging deeper into data in an attempt to purify product reviews, but have they gone too far?



Amazon digs a few layers deeper…

If you go online, it’s no secret that companies are data mining your information and shopping habits, but Amazon may be looking even deeper at your connections of family and friends in your social networks. In the last few days, a blogger, Imy Santiago, wrote about being denied the opportunity to review another author’s book, even though she actually purchased the book in question. Santiago says that Amazon sent her a message denying her the opportunity to post her review, because “her account activity ‘indicates that you know the author.’”

This is not the first time Amazon has done this. In another report from 2012, Amazon would not post a review by Steve Weddle of another author’s book, stating that “We have removed your review from Karma Backlash. We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title.”

How can these interactions be measured?

Authors are kind of rivals of each other, but the real question is how does Amazon determine that you have a relationship with another author? The world is full of interactions between competitors, and authors are no different. In fact, many authors might be competitors on the shelves, but supportive of each other in their professional life. If Amazon is using this as a basis to remove reviews, it’s loose reasoning, kind of like not letting a waitress or chef review a restaurant where they’ve purchased a meal.

If Amazon is using social media to check connections between individuals, that feels more like Big Brother watching you. Unfortunately, Amazon is claiming that determining how accounts are related is proprietary to the nature of their business. This may be one more reason to shop locally and support the businesses in your community.


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Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.



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