Can You Spot A Fake Product Review?
Amazon has launched a lawsuit against 1,114 “John Doe” defendants, charging they damaged the company’s reputation by posting “false, misleading, and inauthentic” reviews. Read on for some tips on spotting fake reviews at online shopping sites…
“LUCKIES Are Less Irritating!”
My first thought upon reading the news that Amazon was filing suit against 1,114 scam reviewers was, “Only 1,114?” The e-commerce giant hosts over 2 million sellers from more than 100 countries, all of them vying for the edge that an extra rating point can give them. Among more than 244 million active Amazon members, there must be more than 1,114 who have sold or solicited fake reviews and ratings.
This batch of mercenaries was caught on Fiverr http://fiverr.com, a freelancers’ marketplace where people offer small tasks for a set price of $5.00. Amazon was tipped off (probably by an Amazon seller) that people on Fiverr were offering to write favorable reviews of products and give five-star ratings for just five bucks.
Amazon’s investigators posed as sellers seeking good reviews and ratings, buying a number of reviews and networking through the fake-reviewer community on Fiverr. Nailing down the reviewers’ true identities was tough; many of them used multiple accounts and IP addresses to lay confusing trails. But Amazon filed suit against 1,114 unknown parties, hoping that will unlock their real identities.
Fiverr will be subpoenaed for its records of the accused’s true name, address, and full account activity history. And Fiverr’s OK with that. Fiverr’s terms of service bans things like offers to write bogus reviews. The two companies have cooperated in the past to shut down bogus review writers. (Yelp should take notice. I don't know anyone who trusts Yelp ratings, because they are notoriously corrupt.)
Amazon polices its own house, too. The company’s software algorithms scan reviews for “fake sounding” telltales. An obvious example is the five-star review of a USB cable with the comment, “Good charger!” Well, what would you expect for five bucks – John Dvorak?
Marginalizing Bogus Reviews
Bogus reviews are not deleted, but their effects on ratings are diminished. Reviews posted by verified purchasers of products rise to the top of the algorithmic filter, giving their ratings more weight than those of non-purchasers. Suspected fake reviews are buried in search results and their ratings are discarded in calculation of sellers’ overall ratings.
Like most consumers, I pay attention to reviews and ratings when shopping online. Customers’ faith in the Amazon ratings system is fundamental to the company’s success, to date and for the future. Amazon takes fake reviews and the sellers who buy them very seriously. In fact, this “John Doe” lawsuit is not even Amazon’s first legal attack this year on fake reviews.
In April, 2015, Amazon filed suit against a number of websites that offered fake reviews for sale. Californian Jay Gentile is named as a defendant and owner of buyazonreviews.com; the other sites’ operators are “John Does” for now. They may turn out to be Gentile, or not.
Gentile was pretty careless in what he put on the Web, it seems. Aside from the domain name that screams, “SCAM!” he even told visitors his modus operandi, according to Amazon’s lawsuit. He (or one of his ghost review writers) would order a seller’s product and the seller would ship an empty box. Now Gentile was a “verified purchaser” so his review and rating carried more weight. Presumably, the money Gentile charged more than covered what he paid for the empty box that he received.
How heavily do you rely on reviews and ratings when shopping online, on Amazon or elsewhere? Have you run across reviews that seemed fake? If so, what tipped you off? For extra credit, post your favorite product review, even if you think it’s fake.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Oct 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Can You Spot A Fake Product Review? (Posted: 20 Oct 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved