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Government issues guidelines to guard against fake reviews of products

Government issues guidelines to guard against fake reviews of products
IndiaIndia2 min read
Representational image    Canva
The government on Monday issued comprehensive guidelines to guard consumers from fake online reviews of products. These would come into effect from November 25 and would be voluntary.

The guidelines have been finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and came into being after the department of consumer affairs received a slew of complaints on fake review of products being posted by several e-commerce companies on the social media and on web portals.

Secretary in the consumer affairs department, Rohit Kumar Singh told mediapersons that to begin with, all stakeholders would have to ensure self regulation.

However if it is found that fake reviews are still being circulated, then complaints can be made to the various consumer fora and tribunals, Singh said.

He added that the guidelines are meant not only for e-commerce entities but also for all those who are writing reviews.

Regarding penalising erring entities indulging in fake reviews, the secretary said that the decision regarding that would be taken by the consumer fora and tribunals, to whom the complaints would be referred.

He further said that 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.

Regarding television commercials pedalling products like painkillers promising instant relief and featuring prominent personalities, osources said that such commercials would have to carry disclaimers stating that professional actors are being used for promoting the product and they are just acting.

The consumer affairs secretary further informed that 11 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.

As per 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.

In addition to this, the guidelines also ensure that the reviews are not biased.

Also, a performance analysis of online reviews would be ensured and even the content can be edited.

Reviewers will also have to give date of publishing it as well as their personal information. There is also a provision to withdraw a review and also a provision to provide a complete link to the review posted online.

The government came up with these guidelines to ensure that companies, especially e-commerce entities, do not put up fake reviews of products to influence consumers.

The guidelines have been prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on the basis of the report by a committee, which was formed in June this year.

The committee consisted of stakeholders like Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Department of Consumer Affairs.