Reviews on Amazon (AMZN) are becoming attack weapons, intended to sink new books as soon as they are published.
In the biggest, most overt and most successful of these campaigns, a group of Michael Jackson fans used Facebook and Twitter to solicit negative reviews of a new biography of the singer. They bombarded Amazon with dozens of one-star takedowns, succeeded in getting several favorable notices erased and even took credit for Amazon’s briefly removing the book from sale.
“Books used to die by being ignored, but now they can be killed — and perhaps unjustly killed,” said Trevor Pinch, a Cornell sociologist who has studied Amazon reviews. “In theory, a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons.”
I'm not really a fan of Michael Jackson, but I was interested in learning about the last year of his life, so I read the book in question, "Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson,” by Randall Sullivan. Personally I found it to be a very sympathetic portrait, however his fans thought otherwise and really attacked it on Amazon leaving one star reviews. I posted some positive comments, but they were very quickly downvoted.
This was posted yesterday on the fan group's Facebook page:
Sullivan is attacking on Amazon with his friends now and we can't allow him to get away with it! Please continue to post comments on the website and fight like HELL for MJ!
It's a shame that Amazon allows what is obviously an attack campaign against a book to continue in this manner.