Sunday, December 23, 2012

Amazon Pulls Plug on 'Sock Puppet' Reviews, Used to Gin Up Book Sales

Posted By on Sun, Dec 23, 2012 at 10:17 AM

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Have you ever purchased a book on Amazon? Then, no doubt, you have seen Amazon's prolific book reviews. But the online uber-retailer has now decided to delete thousands of reviews from its shopping site.

This morning's New York Times reports that Amazon hasn't given any public explanation for its purge but it has "generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer."

Amazon offers reviews of hundreds of its online products but "nowhere are reviews more crucial than with books," according to the Times. It's estimated that Amazon captures nearly a third of every dollar spent in the book marketplace.

But the Times reports that several mystery writers "confessed to various forms of manipulation," using phony identities to "deceive" the buying public. In fact, a petition was launched under the banner, "No Sock Puppets Here Please," saying a so-called "sock puppet" was a moniker for someone who uses a fake identity to promote his or her own book.

Amazon has fired off a letter to some writers, saying "we do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product of a directly competing product. This includes authors."

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