The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – the government’s business watchdog – has launched a consultation on the sites as a result of concerns regarding their trustworthiness and impartiality.
The CMA will investigate specialist review sites, web blogs, video blogs, social media, trusted trader sites, retail platforms and retailers’ own websites.
It will also look at the roles media companies, online reputation managers and search engine optimisers play in helping businesses to promote themselves and manage their image in relation to blogs and review sites.
The Publican’s Morning Advertiser has previously reported concerns from licensees that online review sites do not have robust systems in place to deal with mix-ups.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said: “Businesses have always known that ‘word of mouth’ is one of the most important factors for potential customers; what online reviews and blogs do is to provide a greatly amplified version of this. However, for this sector to work well it is important that this information is genuine, relevant and trustworthy.
“One of our priorities as a new authority is to take a closer look at developments and practices in evolving online markets. We are calling on consumers, businesses, review sites, bloggers and others who play important roles in this sector to help us understand how well it is working before we consider whether further action is needed.”
The consultation closes at 5pm on 25 March.
Have customer comments on review sites affected your trade?