India has probably become the first country in the world to formulate a standard for online reviews.
The government has barred publication of reviews that have been purchased and/or written by individuals employed for that purpose by the supplier or third party concerned.
This step will help in curbing the practice of fake online reviews of the products which were aimed at hoodwinking the customers.
The government has prepared norms for online reviews after extensive stakeholder consultations and these would come into force from November 25, 2022. It will be voluntary but the government will consider making them mandatory in case the menace of fake reviews continues on the online platforms.
Online reviews play a vital role in making purchase decisions on e-commerce platforms. The three prominent sectors where reviews — be it in text, video or audio format — plays a significant role are — tour and travel; restaurants and eateries; and consumer durables.
Due to online shopping becoming a trend, all the e-commerce companies during the past few years have setup dedicated online review teams, whose only job is to write reviews in favour of the products launched by their companies.
The favourable reviews published by these companies influence the buyers and they easily get convinced to buy the products.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has formulated a new standard ‘IS 19000:2022’ for Online Consumer Reviews — principles and requirements for their collection, moderation and publication. The standards will be applicable to any organisation which publishes consumer reviews online, including suppliers of products and services that collect reviews from their own customers, a third party contracted by the supplier or an independent third party.
Now, no company can indulge in self glorification and self praise by hiring the paid agents. The reviews will be written by genuine buyers and these could be either good or bad. This will help the buyers to make a decision by weighing the pros and cons of the product they are planning to purchase.
Credentials of the authors writing the reviews will be checked. It will help in curbing the business of fake reviews. Putting an end to fake online reviews is a welcome step but the idea needs to be implemented in letter and spirit.