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Bug Zappers Are Swarming on Amazon

by Elijah
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Bug Zappers Are Swarming on Amazon

Call it a bug zapper, not a feature.

Data from Fakespot, a Mozilla service that helps consumers spot fake reviews and scams on shopping sites, shows a bizarre increase in the number of bug zapper listings on Amazon over the past three years. At the same time, Fakespot records an increase in the number of negative or unreliable reviews for this product category.

Saoud Khalifah, founder and director of Fakespot at Mozilla, says bug zappers are just one example of the convergence of recent trends in e-commerce: a growing number of third-party seller listings on Amazon.com, more sellers looking to sell at low costs high-margin products and generative AI tools that make it easier for sellers to produce questionable marketing copy and reviews.

“Right now, everyone has a different kind of definition of what ‘fake’ means,” Khalifah says. “For example, in the books category, you might see an author asking their friends and family to leave reviews, and some people might find that disingenuous. But when you look at this particular category, bug zappers, this is game over territory. It is one of the favorite products of fraudulent seller farms.”

Khalifah says bug zappers are one of the few hardware product categories that Fakespot recently explored on Amazon, as it saw an increase in both product listings and dodgy reviews. The bug zapper listings they investigated aren’t necessarily outright scams (buyers still receive a real bug zapper), but Fakespot’s analysis says negative reviews indicate some products don’t seem to work as advertised.

Among low-star ratings, buyers often complain that an insect killer is simply a light bulb without any real insecticidal properties. Fakespot also found erroneous reviews for several products, placed between reviews for bug zappers. One bug zapper had hundreds of reviews, but most were written about a capacitor motor fan; another bugzapper list included reviews of pens and stationery.

Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti said in a statement that shopping at Amazon is “safe, authentic and trustworthy.” She added that the store offers a wide selection of items and perspectives and has robust policies and guidelines. “Our technology continuously scans all products for sale for compliance, and if we discover that a product has not been detected by our controls, we immediately remove the product and refine our controls,” she said.

This week, Amazon released a new Brand Protection Report, in which the company says it invested more than $1.2 billion in brand protection last year and employed more than 15,000 people dedicated to combating counterfeiting, fraud and other forms of to prevent abuse in his store. . The company says it scans billions of attempted changes to product pages every day to look for signs of abuse.

The report acknowledges that the number of products in Amazon’s store continues to increase, making brand safety management more complex, but says tools such as image recognition and counterfeit detection technology make it possible to detect inauthentic or counterfeit goods. Amazon also works with cross-border law enforcement agencies, including law enforcement agencies in China, the company says, to identify and seize counterfeit goods.

Eerily similar

Fakespot uses machine learning to scan product details and product reviews on e-commerce sites and then typically assigns a “confidence rating” based on the signals it pulls. For example, it might assign a ‘D’ grade to a product listing and indicate that analysis suggests that “68 percent of reviews are trustworthy,” but that “the quality of review content is low.” It also sometimes shows its own rating for a shopper to compare with the rating on Amazon. A product with a four-star rating from Amazon might only get two stars from Fakespot.

The Fakespot tool has been criticized in the past for what some perceive as ambiguity around its methods and the possibility that it unfairly labels legitimate sellers. Amazon successfully lobbied Apple to remove Fakespot from the App Store three years ago because it allegedly provided misleading information. Fakespot has since been readmitted to the App Store as Fakespot Pro Browser and Fakespot Lite.

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