Is it real or is it fake? That’s a question we constantly have to keep in the back of our mind as we surf the web.
Extraordinary videos, funny pictures on social media, crazy claims on unvetted news sites and, finally, that awesome purse for a reasonable price on a possibly counterfeit-ridden website are all things to wonder about, and for good reason.Most likely, the online sale of counterfeit and pirated goods will soon surpass the volume of such goods sold by street vendors and in other physical markets, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Given that the office report predicted it would happen soon – in 2012 – it’s probably safe to assume that the majority shift to online has already occurred.
A Problem for the 21st Century
When The New York Times gets something wrong or publishes something highly questionable, it raises the eyebrows of policy wonks and other members of the intelligentsia.
When lesser-known sites offer questionable facts, fewer readers are surprised. Still, simply reporting made-up news is enough to make many believe what’s being put out there.
Incidentally, Google and Facebook have recently promised to crackdown on the cavalcade of sites scare-posting sloppy headlines that adhere to an agenda (regardless of the truth).
Amazon: The Gold Standard of Online Shopping, Proven to be Marred
Just as many are shocked and saddened when their favorite news source of record is reported to be quite imperfect, so too has been the case in 2015 and 2016, when more Amazon shoppers have come to accept that counterfeit goods have deeply infiltrated the online seller.
More and more articles have been published this year describing Amazon’s many examples of counterfeit goods sold on the site.
This is due to changing policies in the company, such as the inclusion of more third-party sellers and many more wares coming from China, which is renown for counterfeit manufacturing.
Once trusted as the source for non-counterfeit shopping, shoppers now know that they must think twice before clicking “add to cart.”
Can Efforts to Fight Counterfeit Items Online Sometimes Wrong-Headed?
This article says that, in an effort to publicly shame counterfeit-selling sites, the U.S. government inadvertently promoted sites for those who may be interested in actually purchasing fake-but-cheap goods.
In other words, it’s said that the tactic may have backfired.
And, the author may have a point. In the past, sites have been up and running, offering an explicit connection to counterfeit wares.
Where they’ve been rooted out from much of the web, many have migrated to what’s typically called the Dark web, where many illegal goods are sold.
A little bit of common sense goes a long way in avoiding counterfeit websites:
- If you think you may want them – don’t buy it! You may enjoy the appeal of showing off a name brand, but the lack of quality will soon be evident. In the long run, everyone loses
- Sites selling questionable goods often have some dead giveaways. The site won’t look very professional, and the overall manner in which the product is presented may have questionable wording, etc.
- Many sites have bad reputations. Alibaba is commonly cited as having counterfeit goods. eBay is a bit of a different story, featuring lots of interesting used goods from third-party sellers. Just beware that what you’re buying isn’t a fake!
We’ll have more blogs featuring what else to look for in counterfeit goods online in the future. ‘Till then, shop smart!