It isn’t easy to find, but if you check out the Participation Guidelines that Amazon publishes on the Community section of the site, there’s a clause that suggests sock puppetry is a no-no. It’s under Prohibited Content or Activities, which lists the “conduct or Content that is prohibited” and includes this bullet:
The impersonation of any person or entity or forging of any e-mail communication or any part of a message
I suppose that someone with a slippery enough grasp of ethics might argue that impersonating a fake person — posting under the identity of someone who doesn’t exist — doesn’t count. I mean, it’s not like the fake person would mind. Since he’s fake. Not that you can ask a fake person’s opinion.
But the issue isn’t just that you’ve taken advantage of some hapless fake person. It’s the act of impersonation: pretending to be someone you’re not in order to gain some advantage. (And hey — fake people are entities, too!)
Amazon doesn’t bother policing their site for this kind of activity, obviously. But it’s nice to see they do recognize it undermines the credibility and validity of their reviews and they don’t consider it an acceptable use of their site.
[tags] sock puppet, bogus Amazon reviews [/tags]