Could some sellers be abusing Amazon "sensitivity filters" for product reviews to harm rival sellers? One EcommerceBytes reader raised the issue today:
"I discovered recently that Amazon is now hiding three of my reviews, all for health products. They are only available for "private viewing" not public. The explanation on my profile page is "hidden by sensitivity filter.""
He was concerned that some sellers might be using the feature as a trick to block positive reviews of rival products - but digging into the issue, that does not appear to be the case.
People discussed the Amazon review filter on Quora
in January - it shows other people have questions and theories about the filter as well. A registered nurse offered the following explanation:
"The sensitivity filter apparently means that the reviews won't appear in your public Amazon profile where others can see a listing of all the items you have reviewed. The reviews are apparently available to read but not listed in your public profile. This seems to cover health care items for example medications but also things like medical grade gloves. It makes the most sense for medications since you might not want to have the review of your anti fungal skin powder or dandruff shampoo as part of your public profile. Other privacy sensitive items are certainly included as well."
We checked out that theory on one of the reviews for a health-related product the reader had left as the buyer (he was not the seller). We could see the reader's review along with his name on the item's Product page, but when we clicked through to his profile page where it lists all of the reviews he has ever left, the review for the health-related product did not display.
So the reader's theory that sellers could try to harm a rival by claiming their item is "sensitive" does not appear to be an issue, since his review *is* found on the Product page.
But it does raise other concerns. Reading all of the reviews a shopper has left is pretty revealing. If you know the person's Amazon profile name, you can infer political leanings, for example. In the case of the reader, he used a full name and location on his profile page.
If you only leave reviews occasionally, it may never have occurred to you the picture those cumulative reviews paint, especially if you provide identifying information.
If you leave reviews for products on Amazon, have you ever scrolled down your profile page to see what people could learn about you?
And that's just a taste of the information Amazon knows about you!