Internet Law

Amazon sues 1,114 John Does over alleged fake review offers targeted to its site

  • Print.

Expanding on earlier litigation, Inc. filed suit Friday against 1,114 John Does who allegedly offered to post fake consumer reviews on the Internet giant’s website, for a fee.

The alleged offers were made on, for as little as $5, USA Today reports. Potential customers would presumably be those who were positively reviewed.

Filed Friday in King County Superior Court in Washington state, the case follows a previous state-court case in which Amazon sued other websites over claimed fake consumer reviews.

This time around, Seattle-based Amazon is suing the would-be reviewers only: is not named as a defendant.

Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law says the vast majority of reviews are authentic ones. “We continue to use a number of mechanisms to detect and remove the small fraction of reviews that violate our guidelines. We terminate accounts that abuse the system and we take legal action.”

In addition to injunctive relief, Amazon is seeking unspecified damages.

Meanwhile, Amazon is responding to another threat to its brand—a New York Times article published in August that describes the company’s work environment as demanding and harsh, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reports. After the article ran, the American Civil Liberties Union asked Amazon workers to contact them if they felt they had been improperly blocked from advancement due to illness or family issues.

In a Monday post on Medium, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, Jay Carney says the New York Times, although in touch with the company about the story before it ran, did not seek comment about “negative” anecdotes.

“Had the reporters checked their facts, the story they published would have been a lot less sensational, a lot more balanced, and, let’s be honest, a lot more boring,” Carney wrote.

In response, executive editor Dean Baquet of the New York Times also took to Medium to defend the article.

A former worker quoted in the article as saying “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” had resigned after the company confronted him with problems with the way he did his work, Carney said.

“This story was based on dozens of interviews,” he wrote, and points it made were supported by multiple subjects and further ratified by reader comments.

The employee quoted about seeing most of his co-workers cry, for instance, was not alone, Baquet said. “Several other people in other divisions also described people crying publicly in very similar terms.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.