Mozilla's Firefox Debuts Experimental Feature to Unmask Deceptive Product Reviews

Eleanor Lee


Mozilla's Firefox Debuts Experimental Feature to Unmask Deceptive Product Reviews

Mozilla is currently experimenting with an innovative 'Review Checker' feature for its Firefox browser, targeted at assessing the credibility of customer reviews for products. The unique component was initially identified by MSPowerUser, with Firefox’s senior director of product management, Byron Jourdan, confirming in a statement that the feature is being trialed with "a limited audience in the United States".

Online retailers are plagued by the issue of counterfeit reviews, compelling them to implement aggressive steps to prevent the manipulation of product ratings by deceptive actors. E-commerce giant Amazon has previously dispensed with thousands of false reviews and has even initiated legal action against individuals promoting fraudulent reviews. Consequently, two years ago, a formal inquiry into the issue was instituted by the UK’s antitrust regulator.

Now, Firefox’s Review Checker aims to equip users with the ability to distinguish unreliable reviews. As MSPowerUser's screenshots demonstrate, the feature, symbolized by a price tag icon in the browser’s URL bar, opens a sidebar detailing the product page currently open. It ascribes a grade to the product reviews, reflecting their perceived credibility, proposes an “adjusted rating” excluding “unreliable reviews”, and summarizes crucial points from the reviews.

The Review Checker feature is fueled by technology from Fakespot, a company Mozilla acquired this year. Mozilla, at the time of the acquisition, asserted that the firm “leverages a sophisticated AI and ML system to identify patterns and similarities amongst reviews to flag potentially deceptive ones.” The intention to incorporate this technology into the browser to enhance the customer's ability to discern fraudulent reviews was also indicated.

Presently, Fakespot offers its review verification services via its website, browser extensions for Chrome and Safari, and through apps for iOS and Android. Mozilla’s acquisition announcement also mentioned Fakespot would continue to function “across all major web browsers and mobile devices.” However, the integration into Firefox could significantly raise Fakespot's visibility and extend its user base.

Mozilla’s Jourdan, though confirmatory about the ongoing testing, stated that an official release date for the feature is yet to be announced. “We will persist with trials to determine if this approach can improve users’ online experience,” he added.