Facebook employees caught giving 5-star ratings to Portal smart speakers on Amazon
Despite growing concerns over how Facebook handles users’ data, the social networking giant last year launched ‘Portal’ smart speakers that compete with Google’s Home and Amazon Echo devices. Facebook hasn’t yet revealed how its speakers are doing commercially, but apparently its employees are ensuring Portal devices get good ratings.
Tech columnist Kevin Roose spotted 5-star ratings given to Portal speakers on Amazon by Facebook employees. He also pointed out Amazon’s policies that bar a company employee to promote their devices on the market place.
“Speaking of coordinated inauthentic behavior, what are the odds that all these 5-star Facebook Portal reviewers on Amazon just happen to have the same names as Facebook employees?,” he said in a tweet.
Interestingly enough, Facebook employees’ reviews seemed like genuine ones.
“I have historically not been a big Facebook or other social media user, but I took a chance of and got 4 Portals and 1 Portal plus for the family just before Thanksgiving. We are all having a blast video calling and hanging out for several hours at time. Also sent one to my son at college in Michigan and it is great to be able to video call with him. The screen video quality and camera tracking are great and do make it feel like we are together. I would recommend this product to anyone who has family or friends that they enjoy staying in contact with. So much better than just a phone call,” said a user review with 5-star rating.
After Roose’s tweet went viral, Facebook executive Andrew “Boz” Bosworth confirmed that some of these reviews on Amazon were from the company employees and that it was not a coordinated effort.
“neither coordinated nor directed from the company. From an internal post at the launch: “We, unequivocally, DO NOT want Facebook employees to engage in leaving reviews for the products that we sell to Amazon.” We will ask them to take down,” he responded to the tweet.