April 6, 2020

New price gouging model to help defend consumers

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Attorneys general from California to Washington, D.C. are demanding that companies crack down on price gouging on critical supplies such as hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectants. The group of chief lawyers drew attention to online marketplaces, citing just a few of the reports coming into their offices daily:

  • Amazon: More than half of hand sanitizers and face mask prices available spiked by at least 50% compared to pre-COVID-19 prices
  • Craigslist: A two-liter bottle of Purell Advanced hand sanitizer for $250 - ten times the normal price.
  • Facebook Marketplace: an eight-ounce bottle was being sold for $40.

Letgo, a longtime customer, approached us about creating a “price gouging” solution to monitor images of high demand items that have seen price spikes with the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic. In particular they needed help identifying images of hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, masks, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper that users uploaded to their site. We were happy to help and got right to work.


Building a custom price gouging model

Computer vision already plays an important role in moderating user-generated content (UGC) across the web by accurately reviewing millions of images, in the time that it would take a person to review just a handful. Computer vision AI has drastically increased productivity for moderation, and this is specially important as the world responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

facemaskWe built a custom model that was specially designed to recognize the kind of images that customers add to a peer-to-peer marketplace: amateur photos, typically taken on a cell phone in indoor settings.

Since custom models can be treated as independent modules within Clarifai’s platform, we were able to create this new purpose-build price gouging model and plug it into Letgo’s existing workflow, without changing anything about the custom moderation solution that had already been developed for their site. This means that they can simply plug this new model into their workflow and start using computer vision AI to detect items at risk of price gouging right away.


Sharing our price gouging model with the world

We are happy to share that we have made the COVID-19 price gouging model available for anyone to use. Moderating this UGC has been a popular use of computer vision AI for a long time, and we are proud to help adapt this technology to help support online marketplaces respond to COVID-19.

covid-19-workflowTo access our price gouging model, simply use our Portal to create a workflow using the "covid19_price_gouging" model. If you need help doing this, just contact our support team and we can help you get our moderation solution configured for your enterprise.