Guidelines to check fake online reviews to kick in today: Details here
New Delhi, November 25, 2022
The Department of Consumer Affairs framed the guidelines after it received a slew of complaints about fake reviews of products being posted by several e-commerce companies on web portals
The guidelines to do away with the menace of product fake reviews on e-commerce websites will come into effect on Friday. The companies will now have to ensure that the ratings and reviews of their products are genuine. The guidelines have been finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
The Department of Consumer Affairs framed the guidelines after it received a slew of complaints about fake reviews of products being posted by several e-commerce companies on social media and on web portals. These were announced on Monday.
Secretary of the consumer affairs department, Rohit Kumar Singh, said that all the stakeholders would have to ensure self-regulation. However, if fake reviews continue to circulate, complaints can be made to the various consumer fora and tribunals.
Eleven major e-retailers like Zomato, Swiggy, Tata Sons, Reliance Retail, Meta and Amazon among others took part in the consultations for preparing the guidelines. They were also part of the committee along with BIS, which formulated the guidelines.
The committee consisted of stakeholders like the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Department of Consumer Affairs.
He added that the guidelines are meant not only for e-commerce entities, but also for all those writing reviews.
What are the guidelines?
Regarding television commercials for products like painkillers promising instant relief and featuring prominent personalities, they would have to carry disclaimers stating that professional actors are being used for promoting the product and that they are just acting.
According to the guidelines, the reviews of products would have to undergo several checks and balances before they are eventually published. They would undergo automatic as well as manual moderation processes before being published.
Performance analysis of online reviews would be ensured and even the content can be edited. There is also a provision to withdraw a review and also a provision to provide a complete link to the review posted online.
Reviewers will have to give the date of publishing it and their personal information.
How will the violators be penalised?
Singh said that the decision regarding that would be taken by consumer fora and tribunals, to whom the complaints would be referred. The move is not aimed at confronting the industry, rather it is to ensure self-regulation so that unfair trading practices like these are curbed, he added.
[The Business Standard]