Fake “Likes”, Illegitimate Reviews

Image courtesy pcworld.com

Picking a dining spot or a must-see show means nowadays turning on your mac, PC, or mobile device. The submitted and posted online reviews can make or break the business, that is why the amount of fake reviews increases along with  fake “likes”. The U.S. law says that if you are get paid to endorse a product, place, or service, you must disclose it.

The websites collecting and demonstrating consumers’ opinions  are fighting with the fraudulent posts using the mix of techniques and human moderators to separate fraudulent  comments from genuine reviews. Not only consumers want to get the point about the place or product they want to choose – businesses as well want to rely on the true consumer’s opinion in order to improve their level of services or business operations. Such websites as Google+, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Local do their best to detect fakes.

Image by Yelp

Here Yelp is standing out: approximately 20% of submitted reviews are never displayed. Besides, Yelp turned to a new weapon: public shaming. Yelp announced that businesses found attempting to buy positive reviews will have their pages branded with a consumer advisory informing readers of their chicanery.

How to spot a fake? In 2011, Cornell University computer-science students developed an algorithm that identified 90% of fake reviews, in part by flagging telltale signs.

Here are the five common signs but some of them still sound unconvincing:

  • A user account with just one review
  • Reviews coming from multiple accounts on one computer
  • Reviews that diverge sharply from the sentiment of others
  • Effusive adjectives (real people seldom gush)
  • Vague terms like “vacation” and “my husband” (real people talk about specifics like the bathroom or price).

    Image courtesy plumevoyage.fr

But still, weeding out the fraud and handling the abuse is not an exact science. When Google removed hundreds of reviews for three car dealerships in Kansas, Massachusetts, and Colorado from its Google+ Local pages, those dealers filed complaints with the FTC. “We acknowledge in trying to strike balance in removing spam reviews and keeping legitimate reviews, there will be some error”, – a Google spokesperson comments. Also Yelp spokesman, Vince Sollitto, admits that some legitimate reviews may be caught up in the fight with the spam comments: “It’s a continuing cat-and-mouse game that will always be with us.”

Sources: Advertising Age, dailyfinance.com

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