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Amazon product reviews just got a little more trustworthy

Amazon is outlawing the practice of companies incentivising reviews by offering customers free and discounted products.

The firm has updated its community guidelines to ban compensation of any kind and has said customer reviews can only be uploaded through the Amazon Vine program.

Amazon’s decision comes after a study of over 7 million reviews discovered the average rating was higher when incentivised by the seller.

Related: Amazon Echo review – updated ahead of UK launch

In a blog post Chee Chew, VP customer experience at Amazon, said the incentivised reviews could be helpful in some cases.

He wrote: “These so-called ‘incentivised reviews’ make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products.”

Sellers will be able to post customer reviews through the Vine program, but they must be labelled as such, so as not to mislead the community.

The use of Vine gives Amazon control over which reviews appear to customers, by intensifying trusted and helpful reviewers.

Chew continued: “Vine has important controls in place and has proven to be especially valuable for getting early reviews on new products that have not yet been able to generate enough sales to have significant numbers of organic reviews.”

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