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Amazon is cracking down on biased customer reviews
Amazon updated its community guidelines today to prohibit so-called "incentivized reviews," which are customer reviews of a product that was received for free or at a discount in exchange for an online write-up. The company says these types of reviews make up a tiny fraction of overall Amazon.com reviews. Yet studies have shown that incentivized reviewers are less likely to give products negative feedback and review hundreds of products on average, potentially affecting the overall sales performance of otherwise mediocre items.The company says it will still support incentivized reviews handled through its Vine program, which was set up in 2007 to offer a more bias-free customer review system. Vine lets retailers pay Amazon a fee to distribute its products to trusted reviewers, who never deal with the maker of the product itself. The Vine program does not incentivize positive coverage and Amazon limits the number of Vine reviews it displays for any given item. One exception to this new rule is the book category, as Amazon does not want to prohibit the industry standard of sending out advance review copies of new novels and non-fiction.