In all the recent furor over authors posting false or misleading reviews of their books on Amazon or other sites, one thing has been missing: the suggestion that such practices might not only be gross and a betrayal of the trust of your readership, but might also come with a pretty hefty fine.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced on Monday the results of his office’s yearlong investigation into astroturf reviews for businesses. As David Streitfeld reports for the New York Times,
Agreements have been reached with 19 companies to cease their misleading practices and pay a total of $350,000 in penalties. … Among those signing the agreements are a charter bus operator, a teeth-whitening service, a laser hair-removal chain and an adult entertainment club. Also signing are several reputation-enhancement firms that place fraudulent reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, Citysearch and Yahoo.
Schneiderman’s methods and language about the problem are all a bit farcical. His investigators apparently posed as “the owner of a Brooklyn yogurt shop that was the victim of unfair reviews.” And in his press conference he said “on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions.” Unless the “you” he was …read more

Via: Melville House Books