Britain’s competition watchdog said on Friday social media company Facebook removed 16,000 groups that were selling and buying fake reviews of various products and services, the second time the regulator had to intervene.

Facebook has also made further changes for detecting and removing paid content which could mislead users on its platforms, including the popular photo-sharing app Instagram, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

“We have engaged extensively with the CMA to address this issue. Fraudulent and deceptive activity is not allowed on our platforms, including offering or trading fake reviews,” a Facebook representative said.

The CMA began a crackdown on false reviews from 2019 when it first asked Facebook and e-commerce platform eBay to check their websites after it found evidence of a growing marketplace for misleading customer reviews on the platforms.

Facebook has also been under scrutiny by the CMA for antitrust concerns over the technology company’s acquisition of GIF website Giphy. It has been under pressure the world over for its data sharing practices as well as fake news and hate speech.

“The pandemic has meant that more and more people are buying online, and millions of us read reviews to enable us to make informed choices when we shop around. That’s why fake and misleading reviews are so damaging,” said CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli.

CMA’s crackdown on Facebook coincides with Britain’s efforts to set up a dedicated digital markets unit within the regulatory authority to specifically look at governing digital platforms.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

What is the best phone under Rs. 15,000 in India right now? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 27:54), we speak to OK Computer creators Neil Pagedar and Pooja Shetty. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.