Culture 3 min read

Facebook Employees Caught Manipulating Reviews of Portal Device

The Portal | Facebook

The Portal | Facebook

Two months ago, Facebook released their Portal device. The device arrived at the tail end of a year filled with scandal and data leaks for the company. Despite Facebook’s tarnished reputation, the device is currently floating around the 4-star rank on Amazon.

However, the gadget’s Amazon rating is now being questioned after it was exposed that some of the glowing reviews received by the smart display were from Facebook’s own employees.

On Tuesday, the New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose, through his Twitter account, revealed what he called the “coordinated inauthentic behavior” of the Facebook employees.

“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?” Roose twitted.

Violating Amazon’s Policy

Amazon’s Community Guidelines strictly prohibit a seller’s relatives, close friends, business associates, and employees from posting any promotional content like comments and reviews on the former’s product pages. Whether its intentional or not, what the Facebook employees did clearly violates Amazon’s policy.

“I would recommend this product to anyone who has a family or friends that they enjoy staying in contact with. So much better than just a plain phone call,” Tim Chappell, Facebook’s Head Of Supply-Chain & Strategic Sourcing AR/VR products, wrote on the Portal device’s Amazon review section.

The Facebook executive also shared that he purchased four Portal devices and one Portal Plus “on a chance” after Thanksgiving last year despite not being a big FB user.

Roose noted that at least three out of the over 100 5-star reviews of the Portal matched the names of current Facebook employees. Aside from Chappell, the other two were Javier Cubria, an event marketer at Facebook, and Oren Hafif, one of the company’s security engineering manager.

Facebook Asked Employees to Take Down Amazon Reviews

In response to Roose’s tweet, Facebook’s Vice President of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth tweeted that what the Facebook employees did was not coordinated nor directed from the company.

“We, unequivocally, DO NOT want Facebook employees to engage in leaving reviews for the products that we sell to Amazon,” Bosworth said.

Upon checking, the three comments are no longer visible on the Portal device’s Amazon review section. Facebook has not issued any official statement yet about the incident.

Do you consider customer reviews as a deciding factor when making your online purchases?

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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