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Attack Of The Amazon Book Reviewers

A book about Michael Jackson was recently torpedoed in the court of online public opinion by a fan group in an act that some claim was an abuse of the company’s customer review system.

What’s the Latest Development?

Randall Sullivan’s 2012 book Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson had received mixed criticism before a fan group calling itself “Michael Jackson’s Rapid Response Team to Media Attacks” decided to bombard the book’s Amazon’s page with one-star reviews. Within two weeks, nearly 100 of these reviews had been posted, and at the end of November, Amazon briefly stopped selling physical copies “after buyers said [they] were defective.” The group took credit for it on their Facebook page, with one post saying, “MJ fans we have done it again!!! Who’s BAD!!!” Readers who left positive reviews were labeled “haters” by the group.

What’s the Big Idea?

Suspiciously negative reviews haven’t received as much attention as suspiciously positive ones, some of which have been removed by Amazon in recent months. With regards to Sullivan’s book, the company says the fan group had stayed within the guidelines it set for reviews. Morgan Entrekin, president of Grove/Atlantic, the parent company of Sullivan’s publisher, says his company understands the need for free discourse “but there should be transparency about people’s motivations.” An administrator for the fan group said that their actions were “a moral responsibility.”

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Read it at The New York Times


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