Here's How to Spot A Fake Product Review
Amazon has launched an offensive this year against sellers on their platform that post or solicit false, misleading, or inauthentic reviews. Dozens of vendors, including a few high-profile ones, have been banned. Read on for some tips on spotting fake reviews at online shopping sites...
“LUCKIES Are Less Irritating!”
A recent article bearing the headline Amazon Says It’S Permanently Banned 600 Chinese Brands For Review Fraud caught my attention. My first thought upon reading this news was, “Only 600?” The e-commerce giant hosts over 1.5 million active sellers from more than 100 countries, all of them vying for the edge that an extra rating point can give them. Among those Amazon sellers, there must be more than 600 who have solicited fake reviews and ratings.
Amazon spent five months earlier this year in a global crackdown looking into sellers that were "knowingly, repeatedly and significantly violating Amazon’s policies." They've permanently banned over 600 vendors (all Chinese) that were controlling 3,000 different seller accounts. Among them were some fairly well-known brands such as Aukey, Mpow, and RavPower selling bluetooth headphones, earbuds, power banks, car phone mounts, and other electronics accessories.
A few months ago, my son told me his friend was making extra money by posting fake reviews online. It turns out there are websites and Facebook groups where sellers can solicit people to post postive reviews in exchange for cash or free merchandise. That was my rude awakening to the existence of massive organized efforts to "game the system" of online reviews. It made me mad, because I've relied on those reviews and recommended them to others, assuming they contained accurate information from real people who actually bought those products.
Maybe that's why the highly-rated Mpow car phone mount that I bought last year turned out to be junk that broke a few days after installing it on my windshield.
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, and driving sales that might have gone to an honest competitor.
Here's another disturbing fact -- the "Verified Purchase" tag you see on Amazon and other online marketplaces may be meaningless. Some review scammers will pay a bounty for fake reviews, or refund the "purchaser" and allow them to keep the merchandise. Other sellers are more devious. One method involves "borrowing" the name and address of a real person (easy with all the data breaches happening) and creating a fake account in their name. They order their own product, and ship a package to the "victim," who receives either an empty box or a low-value item. The real user gets the package, and the fake purchaser leaves a 5-star review.
If you've ever gotten a package from Amazon that you didn't order, this is most likely the reason. If this happens to you, check online for reviews of that product bearing your name.
Marginalizing Bogus Reviews
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. So Amazon takes fake reviews and the sellers who solicit them very seriously. But with millions of sellers, it's a constant battle with an escalating "arms war" of technology employed by both sides.
So how can busy consumers tell the difference between a real, honest review and a pile of fake and dishonest ones?
Fakespot is one organization with a mission of bringing trust and transparency to ecommerce. Fakespot analyzed 2.7 million online revies and found that nearly 40% of them were fake or unreliable. The product categories with the highest levels of bogus reviews are Electronics, Home Decor, Apparel and Beauty.
Fakespot offers free tools that use AI to detect fraudulent product reviews and third-party sellers in real-time. Install the Fakespot browser extension, or download the Fakespot app for Android or iOS mobile phones. If you don't want to install any software, you can paste the URL of a product to the analyzer bar on their website and get a result.
Another tool to ferret out fake reviews is ReviewMeta, whichc analyzes Amazon reviews and makes an educated guess as to their veracity. The free apps and browser extensions offered by ReviewMeta filter out "unnatural" or suspicious reviews and display an adjusted rating if review fraud is suspected.
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 30 Nov 2021
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Here's How to Spot A Fake Product Review (Posted: 30 Nov 2021)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved