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How Can we Spot Fake Reviews Online?

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How Can we Spot Fake Reviews Online?

Online retailers from Amazon to smaller, one-off boutiques have been allowing customers to rate and leave comments about their products for a long time. The idea in principle is a great one, allowing the democratic rise of products that really meet customers’ expectations. We don’t have to believe the sellers slick marketing spiel, we can see 5 shiny stars awarded 220 times.

However,  a recent Forbes article brought to our attention that data, gathered by bogus-comment busting business Fakespot, shows that at least 70% of online retail reviews are fake. Fakespot has had its eyes across the likes of Amazon, Walmart, Yelp and Tripadvisor examining things like dates, purchasing patterns and grammar and ranking each review with an authenticity grade from A to F, concluding with this frighteningly frequent fakeness. 

Part of the problem is that fake reviews come in different forms, from sellers creating multiple accounts to seed a lot of fake reviews on one day, to incentivized reviews that are not coming from real buyers. And while each platform is trying its best to combat fake reviews, it’s almost impossible to manage them in real time.

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An other issue is that sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon don’t face any significant penalties for publishing fake reviews, although they will always try to respond to reports of fake comments and take them down as soon as possible. Professional liars who seed these online sites with product reviews don’t really face anything but a wrist slap, either.

What can you do to spot a fake review?

  • Don’t trust reviews with only 5 star feedback and never a bad word
  • Look for where reviews all share a similar pattern or style, with the odd word or phrase swapped out.
  • Don’t buy knock-off products or unknown brands. Shop with trusted brands and vendors that are known for their quality.
  • Lookout for products that seem a fraction of the normal price. If something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
  • You can install a Chrome extension from Fake Spot that alerts you to a bogus review

More Reading:

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-never-ending-war-on-fake-reviews

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43907695

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