Fake Reviews

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Beginner’s Guide To Fake Reviews

Finding fake reviews is crucial to ensuring product quality prior to purchase. There are multiple systems to make the process easier.

What Is An Online Product Review?

A product review is an opinion or feedback from a customer about their experience of using a particular product. Consumers use product reviews to influence their decisions before purchasing a product.

Why Should We Care About Reviews?

Positive reviews and negative reviews are both beneficial to a company. The honest opinions of your customers are a reality check. The openness to letting users provide feedback to your product or service is what you may need to get your brand the recognition it deserves.

What Is A Buying Guide?

Buying guides, as their name implies, are guides to help prospective buyers make a decision about a product. Buying guides typically contain multiple product recommendations that meet the needs of different consumers. It is common to see buying guides offering answers to common questions, as well as general information about the product and features that align with the intent of the guide, like “cameras for use underwater.”

The Psychology Behind Reviews

Reviews provide someone who is on the fence about purchasing a product or service a way to confirm or deny any fears or misgivings they might have about it. Consumers expect a degree of transparency from reviews that they couldn’t get from a product description, because the people that buy a product or service are more likely to be honest and open about their experience with it. Good products, therefore, get good reviews, which generates word of mouth recommendations. Happy consumers willingly tell others about a purchase and offer their recommendation of it, which in turn can have the effect of marketing social belonging to people.

STAT: 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time, including 40% who say they always or almost always do so. (source)

What Is A Fake Review?

A fake review is one created by somebody who didn’t actually buy the product, intended to (usually) improve the overall rating of a product. Paid reviewers – people paid money by the company that sells the product to review it – could also be considered a source of fake reviews, as the reviews they give (even if they own the product) come from a source that has a conflict of interest.

Types Of Fake Reviews Online

There are endless fake reviews online. These can be on travel websites, e-commerce websites, and anywhere else a purchase can be made.

Affiliate Review Sites

One of the fastest-growing parts of the online industry, affiliate review sites have been popping up everywhere. They offer consumers reviews of products and affiliate links to go and buy them if they decide to make a purchase. There has been a wave of problems associated with this, however.

  • Blogs – Blogs are a popular place to hold review posts on website. Many of these posts will be monetized, whether through affiliate links or other ads.
  • Publications – There are a variety of websites that provide publications that may contain reviews through their posts. Consumer Reports, PCMag, and more are all examples of places providing review-based publications regularly.
  • Coupon Sites – Several coupon websites exist to help consumers get the best price on the products they buy. Some of these websites, such as Coupons.com, are industry leaders and household names.
  • User Generated Content – Like the name implies, user generated content is any piece of content, like images, text, reviews, or videos created by users/consumers of a service or brand.
  • UGC/Publication Hybrids – User-generated content has become increasingly popular, especially for large publication websites that require as much content produced daily as possible.

E-Commerce Platforms

E-commerce started as soon as the internet became more popularized. The ability to purchase items online and have them shipped to you has changed the selling landscape entirely.

  • Fake Product Reviews, Both Positive And Negative, Sold By Vendors – Positive product reviews help boost ratings and generate interest, while negative product reviews can help tone down suspicion in customers. Both of these types of reviews are sold by vendors.
  • Fake Product Reviews Generated By Businesses Owners Themselves – Unscrupulous business owners will often buy fake, positive product reviews in hopes of generating more sales.
  • Fake Negative Product Reviews Written By Consumers For Refunds – Some customers will abuse company policy to received free products, by writing a negative review in hopes of getting a refund for the product or having a new one sent to them.
  • Fake Review Clusters Written By Friends And Family – Some businesses will ask friends and family to leave reviews on the website, which are typically against ToS for most companies, and is an underhanded practice that should not be used.
  • Fake Book Reviews – Small authors will sometimes pay for positive reviews of their book. The practice is also sometimes employed by publishing houses who do something similar by using influencers.
  • Fake App Reviews – Developers may try to source reviews to boost the rating of their app. This is a common practice among small developers.

Company Review Sites

There are a variety of websites offering company reviews, such as Indeed and Glassdoor. Using company review sites can be a great way to figure out if you’re a match for the company.

  • Fake Positive Reviews Written By Current Employees – Fake positive reviews can offset the score a company may otherwise deserve, and are sometimes left by current employees under pressure of the company.
  • Fake Negative Reviews Written By Ex-Employees – Disgruntled ex-employees may sometimes leave false negative reviews. Company websites do typically have checks in place to prevent these from becoming a problem, but they’re still worth keeping an eye out for.

Misleading Influencer Endorsement Posts

The FDA is cracking down heavily on influencer advertising. Its surge in popularity has made protecting consumers from fake or bought reviews increasingly important.

Fake Peer Reviews On Scholarly Publisher Sites

Fake reviews are becoming rampant across all walks of online life. Even scholarly publisher sites have become affected through fake peer reviews. This is especially disturbing, as peer reviewed articles are incredibly important for our understanding of the validity of studies and current claims in various academic communities.

STAT: Consumers spent $861.12 billion with U.S. merchants in 2020, with e-commerce having a 21.3% share. (source)

Why Is It Important To Address This Issue?

Fake reviews can bloat your comments with disappointed customers. Paid reviews often create false expectations that buyers will come back to complain about. More importantly, writing an incentivized fake review is actually illegal. It is also unfair to competitors that actually abide by the rules of the game, while also causing harm to any brand that employs fake reviews. A poor reputation will ruin your chances at succeeding, so you should do all you can to avoid eroding the trust your consumers have in you.

How To Spot A Fake Review

Many review websites are cracking down on people who post fraudulent reviews. However, with an understanding of how to identify and report fake reviewers, you can work to keep your company’s name clean across the internet.

Criteria For Fake Affiliate Reviews

There are a few criteria you should use to determine whether affiliate reviews are faked or not. The absence of any cons or negative remarks is a huge tip-off.

  • The Site Has No Affiliate Disclosure But There Are Affiliate Links – These sites should be reported immediately; affiliate links on a page without any disclosure is against Amazon’s ToS and violates FDA guidelines.
  • The Site Has Very Few Negative Reviews In Total – If a website has very few negative reviews, it could be deleting customer feedback. Use websites that check review authenticity to better judge the lack of critical reviews.
  • Lack Of Original Product Testing Photos – Places that lack their own product testing photos should not be trusted, as it typically means that they have not received actual product to perform a real review on.
  • Reviews Don’t Provide Quantitative Measurements – Reviews should always be justified through specific data points; if a review site doesn’t provide quantitative measurements, then you should consider looking elsewhere.
  • Little-To-No Affiliate Business Experience In The Writers’ Backgrounds – A lack of experience in affiliate linking will show in the way a writer tackles articles, which can result in poorly written and poorly researched pieces.
  • Writers Aren’t Responsive To Comments, Emails, Etc. – Being unresponsive to comments can suggest that the writer isn’t active on the website, but not being response to emails or any attempts at contact is an even worse sign to be wary of.
  • Duplicate Reviews On Other Sites – Finding duplicate reviews across multiple websites is a huge red flag for consumers, which means that the site might not be putting out original content and is instead a scam.

Criteria For Fake E-Commerce Product Reviews

here are a few ways you can spot a fake product review. Understanding the criteria for them will protect you from poor purchasing decisions.

  • Be Wary of Extremely Positive Reviews – Be mindful of overly positive language, unrealistic results, and a total lack of negatives.
  • Suspicious Language – Watch for suspicious tells like spelling errors, strange grammar, failure to describe the actual product, and overuse of very positive adjectives.
  • Generic Comments – The presence of overly generic comments like a lack of the product and packaging, very vague descriptions of using the product and reviews with extremely small word counts are all red flags.
  • Short Length – Very brief reviews can be a sign of a fake review, so watch for a lack of product knowledge and a general lack of information related to the product.
  • Less Emotional Wording – Reviews that are light on emotionally charged language are signs that the review could be genuine, so watch for well-thought reviews that provide a mix of positive and negative aspects.
  • Typos Or Broken English – This is a very big red flag and is typically a sign that the user is a paid review service, often created by a bot and not an actual person.
  • Bashing Other Competitors – If a review or a company is actively engaging in speaking poorly of their competitors and paint rival products in a very negative light, this could be a sign to be wary of the business or the review.
  • Sudden Influx of Positive Reviews Over Short Period Of Time – Be mindful of any product that receives a huge influx of reviews in a short period of time, as they could have been paid for, or the brand could be suffering spam issues.
  • Suspicious Dates on Reviews – If you see a product has received a huge number of reviews on the same day, or in a short period of time (like a week or so) and they’re all largely positive, this could be a sign of the presence of fake reviews.

Criteria For Fake Publisher Peer Reviews

There are a number of ways you can figure out whether a peer view was legitimate or not, like checking the background of peer reviewers and what research they’ve had in their past.

  • Author Asks to Exclude Some Reviewers – If the author of a research paper is excluding reviewers, it could be for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is to keep real reviews from surfacing.
  • Author Recommends Hard-To-Find Reviewers – If an author is recommending reviewers that are hard to find, then it is usually a bad sign, and could indicate an attempt to avoid bad reviews.
  • Author Provides Reviewer Contact Info With Free Email Addresses – Generally speaking, a free email address refers to anything you don’t have to pay for, like Gmail, and is a notable deviation from what is usually offered as contact info, which are .edu emails or other professional domains.
  • Reviews Are Written And Submitted Quickly – Hastily written reviews are usually lacking in sufficient understanding to analyze important information, and can be a sign that the review (and outcome) was decided before the paper was even read.
  • Overall Very Positive Reviews – Generally speaking, scientific consensus is very hard to come by, so finding overly positive reviews can be a bad sign and may be an indicator that they’ve been paid for.

Specific Sites

There are a few specific sites that can help you better determine the accuracy of online reviews. Using them together is even better since each has its own faults.

  • Checking For Fake Reviews On Google – Once you spot a few fake reviews on Amazon or Google, report it. And if you get a negative review, reply politely.
  • Checking For Fake Yelp Reviews – As of early 2021, Yelp had more than 224 million reviews. Unfortunately, the power of such a review company causes some businesses to use fraudulent methods (fake reviews) to promote their name and tarnish their competitors.
  • Checking For Amazon Fake Reviews: The best Fake Amazon review checker helps you sift the fake reviews from the legitimate reviews. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for your business, a review checker can help you avoid unreliable reviews to get the best product available.
  • GadgetReview – We’re a well-known contributor to high-quality product review articles. We also offer guidance through a variety of blog post topics. The goal of GadgetReview’s founders is to bring confidence to consumers using an easy-to-read scoring system.
  • Lustre.ai – Lustre is a premier shopping partner that you can trust. This website will sift through deals, reviews, and more to find you the best products for your needs. It focuses on a combination of extensive research, rigorous vetting, real-time updates, and deal shopping to get you the best deals possible.
  • Fakespot – Fakespot provides review analysis to help consumers identify fake information while they shop online and also identifies potential counterfeit products. You have the freedom to use the Fakespot tool to analyze the reviews in a particular marketplace, which are ranked from A to F. You can also view different analysis metrics in each marketplace so that you can spot fake product reviews.
  • ReviewMeta Web Tool – Using a web tool helps you navigate with confidence. ReviewMeta provides a fantastic option for consumers who want to shop more wisely, by offering judgments on the authenticity of reviews on Amazon through the use of multiple data points. Though it overlaps with Fakespot in some spaces, it is distinct enough to be worth using.

How To Report A Fake Review

Spotting a fake review means looking for poor grammar, bad spelling, and vague wording, among other things. Reporting a fake review, on the other hand, is usually much simpler and requires less analysis. Many sites make reporting a fake review as simple as a few mouse clicks.

  • Reporting A Fake Google Review – Reporting a review on Google is as easy as signing into your Business Profile, finding the review, clicking the three breadcrumbs and selecting “Report Review.” Removing a review from your profile only takes a few extra steps!
  • Reporting Fake Reviews on FacebookThe most effective options for reporting a fake review on Facebook include reporting the review as a regular customer or a business owner. In addition, you can also provide evidence that a reviewer is using a fake account to post reviews.
  • Reporting Fake Yelp ReviewsYelp uses intelligent software to pick the right reviews to recommend to users. But if you see a fake review about your brand, collect your evidence and report to Yelp.
  • Reporting A Fake Review On AmazonReporting Amazon fake five-star positive reviews is easy on your part, simply click the “Report Abuse” button on the review in question. However, it will take Amazon some time for them to determine that your claim is true.

Returning A Product You Bought Online

Returning a product you purchase through any online vendor will use the same general process, but the specifics of that process are where things are going to be very, very different. Accessing the actual returns flow will be a bit different from site to site, such as how Amazon allows you to make returns through the order information page. It’s important to know the laws that govern the return and refunding of products you purchase, as well as what you can do in the event that you are denied a refund or simply cannot get one in the first place.

What Sites Have Fake Reviews?

Fake reviews can be found anywhere you make purchases online. Knowing how to spot them is crucial for this reason.

Publishers

Publishers are important in the fight against fake and purchased reviews. This is true whether they do research articles, user-generated content, or have their own internal team.

Bloggers

One of the most influential reviews to have is one done by a prominent blogger. There are strict laws to follow when working with reviews, however.

  • Casper Lawsuit Against Deceptive Mattress Bloggers – One of the most influential reviews to have is one done by a prominent blogger. There are strict laws to follow when working with reviews, however.
  • BTOD Fake Reviews Lawsuit – There was a federal lawsuit filed against BTOD and Greg Knighton by Next Technologies. It claimed that the brand was publishing false reviews about their Xdesk products.

Coupons

Using online coupons can be a great way to save money. You need to be sure you’re using legitimate coupons, however, and sourcing them correctly.

Mary Kay Cosmetics Lawsuit Against RetailMeNot For Fraudulent Coupons – Mary Kay Cosmetics brought a lawsuit against RetailMeNot for the fraudulent coupons they would display. It’s important to note that RetailMeNot is Google Ventures-backed.

Fraudulent Reviews On Amazon

Amazon does have a slight problem when it comes to fake reviews. They had a massive influx of scams in 2015 that included both false reviews being made and fake companies popping up. To avoid fraudulent Amazon reviews, rely on reviews written by “verified purchasers.” An easy way to distinguish fraudulent reviews from real ones is to find verified purchasers on Amazon. These are customers that hasve bought the product at a fair market value directly from Amazon. These accounts can then write a verified review or use Amazon’s One-Tap rating system, which allows customers to leave verified reviews without writing a single word.

Product ratings have become more opaque as technology has improved. Unfortunately, fake reviewers and scammers have figured out how to bypass this barrier. In 2021, Safety Detectives’ cybersecurity team uncovered an insecure ElasticSearch database. This exposed an organized fake reviews scam affecting Amazon, though specific sellers were not publicly disclosed.

Amazon Items with the Highest Percentage of Fake Reviews

Fraudulent Reviews On The App Store

Unfortunately, Apple’s App Store can often be plagued by swarms of positive reviews. Many companies offer the ability to generate fake reviews for a fee. These are typically written by bots.

Fake Reviews On Commonly Used Sites

  • Fake Reviews On FacebookFacebook Groups has been the subject of scrutiny due to certain communities that were created for the purpose of purchasing paid reviews.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On YelpResearch has indicated that up to 20 percent of Yelp reviews are fake. Spot fake reviews by reading the copy thoroughly, checking out the reviewer’s profile, and reading their other reviews.
  • Fake Reviews On GoogleThere are several ways to leave fraudulent reviews on Google. Fortunately, their “My Business” service allows users to remove, report and respond to them.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On Google Play StoreThe Google Play Store has had significant issues when it comes to fake reviews bought by shady companies. To spot these fake reviews, read the copy thoroughly or use a dedicated app that works to spot fakes for you.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On Sunday Riley – A Texas-Based skincare company, Sunday Riley was found using its employees to write fake product reviews of the various products it offered on its Sephora website. They were also downvoting any negative reviews they received to push them out of the public eye.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On EtsyA small percentage of Etsy shops fake reviews and sales by creating multiple dummy accounts, selling items to these accounts, and then posting glowing reviews. There are also professional services that will perform this disreputable task for a fee.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On Best BuyIt has been estimated that less than five percent of Best Buy reviews are fake, which is on the lower end when compared to similar companies.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On AirbnbFraudulent reviews and fake listings do happen on Airbnb, threatening to ruin any vacation. Avoid potentially fake listings by looking out for new accounts and by contacting the lister directly to discuss the property.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On RedbubbleLike any global e-commerce platform, Redbubble items and stores can be susceptible to fake reviews. Spot fake reviews by reading them thoroughly, looking for subpar content, and by reading other reviews written by the same author.
  • Fake Reviews On Tripadvisor – Tripadvisor has had its fair share of fake reviews pop up, including one instance where a man who made a living posting fake reviews successfully turned a shed into the highest rated restaurant on the website. They now have a strict policy as well as internal monitoring to protect consumers and companies from fraudulent information.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On eBayThere are fraudulent reviews on eBay, as many sellers have figured out ways to abuse the feedback system. If you are concerned that a review may be fake, read the copy and perform a deep dive into the reviewer.
  • Fake Reviews On WayfairWayfair is a well-known retailer of furniture, decor, lighting, and more. Issues with reviews have continued to pop up even with strict policies in place.

Fake Reviews On Company Sites

  • Fraudulent Reviews On GlassdoorGlassdoor can have fraudulent reviews, though these reviews are technically written by employees of the company and not sourced from a content farm. The reviewers are typically coerced by management to write a glowing review.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On TrustPilotTrustpilot is known for its radical transparency when it comes to customer reviews. This is a great idea, but does loan itself to fake and fraudulent reviews. Spot these fakes by checking out the timestamps and by reading other reviews by the same reviewer.

Misleading Endorsement Posts On Instagram

As Instagram has taken over more and more, many celebrities have gotten caught posting paid ads without disclosure. This is part of the reason the FDA is taking things more seriously.

  • Public Citizen’s Investigation Into Misleading Influencer Behavior – Public Citizen recently conducted a deep dive into the Kardashians, Rihanna, and other celebrities. These were to expose failure to disclose paid product endorsements.
  • FTC Complaint Against Lord & Taylor For Deceptive Influencer Endorsements – Lord & Taylor was the target of an FTC lawsuit for fraudulent behavior regarding influencer marketing. The biggest issue was a total of 50 paid posts by influencers that went undisclosed.

Deceptive Sponsored Videos On YouTube

There are several ways that sponsored videos on YouTube can turn out to be fraudulent. The biggest one is selective product placement without a paid advertisement disclosure.

  • FTC Complaint Against Ryan ToysReview’s Hidden Sponsorship Deals – A popular YouTube influencer was accused by the FTC of disguising paid sponsorships as simple reviews. This subjected children to sponsored ads without their parents knowing.

Fake Reviews On Academic Websites

  • Fake Peer Reviews On Springer Publishing – Springer Publishing has had an unfortunate past when it comes to removing bad studies and information, namely that they fail to do so.
  • Fake Peer Reviews On BioMed Central – BioMed Central is a publisher of science studies and papers. They’ve come under fire for having to retract multiple articles because of fraudulent peer reviews.
  • Fake Peer Reviews On SAGE Publications – There were multiple recalls of both articles and studies from SAGE journals due to the discovery of fake peer reviews.
  • Fake Peer Reviews On Hindawi Publishing – In 2015, Hindawi Publishing Corporation was accused of faking more than 30 peer reviews across dozens of academic articles. Many of these articles were later retracted.
  • Fake Journals And Peer Reviews On Elsevier – Elsevier has been forced to make several retractions from its journal. This came about due to false peer reviews which had originally been backing the studies.

Film Review Sites

  • Fraudulent Reviews On IMDb – Movie resource mega-site IMDb has some serious issues when it comes to fake movie and TV reviews. Hollywood promotors can manipulate review scores and angry viewers can band together to “review bomb” films that they have taken issue with.
  • Fraudulent Reviews On Rotten Tomatoes – Rotten Tomatoes has strict policies against people leaving fraudulent reviews. This doesn’t prevent scammers from slipping through, however.

Major Companies’ Responses To Fake Reviews

Most companies assure customers that they’re doing everything possible to stem the tide of fake reviews. This is only partially true.

E-Commerce PlatformResponses To Fake Reviews
Amazon

  • Amazon Sued Fake Review Operator In 2015 - The suit was filed against “buyamazonreviews.com”, which was selling fake reviews to sellers. It is notable as being the first lawsuit Amazon filed against fake review vendors.

  • Amazon Sued Over 1,000 Fake Reviewers In 2015 - The year 2015 marked a pivotal year for Amazon, where consumer trust in Amazon reviews reached new lows. Rampant scams caused returns to skyrocket and resulted in potential legal trouble from displeased sellers and customers alike.

  • Amazon Sued Sellers That Bought Fake Reviews In 2016 - After the problems of 2015, Amazon went around suing sellers that purchased fake reviews to boost their products.

  • Amazon Sued More Fake Review Operators in 2016 -Later on in 2016, an even larger wave of lawsuits filed by Amazon against fake review operators rolled out, including the following: Amazon Verified Reviews, Buy Amazon Reviews and Paid Book Reviews.

  • Updated Amazon Community Guidelines - There are a few updates to the Amazon Community Guidelines banning reviews in exchange for any of the following: discounts, freebies, rewards.

  • Aukey Products Suspiciously Disappeared From Amazon Listings In 2021 - The sudden disappearance of Aukey products from Amazon listings continues to be shrouded in mystery. We know this for sure: it happened after the ElasticSearch data breach, and while unconfirmed, there is some suspicion that the breach and disappearance are linked.

Apple
  • 2021 Press Release On Fraudulent Transactions - There are a few different things the 2021 press release revealed, namely: the report covered Apple’s commitment to customer protection and detailed that there was over $1.5 billion in fraud prevented.

  • 2021 App Store Review Guidelines - The App Store has several review guidelines protecting consumers, including: defamatory, discriminatory, or bigoted content is not allowed, depictions of real animals or people experiencing violence is prohibited, and no pornographic or explicit content can be used.

Yelp

  • 2012 Yelp Sting Operation - In 2012, Yelp conducted a Sting operation exposing several businesses for purchasing reviews. Yelp labeled the pages of multiple businesses with “Consumer Alert” warnings as a result.

  • Yelp Dealt With Over 5 Million Fake Reviews In 2020 - Yelp received over 5 million fake reviews from a variety of places. These are some of the places they came from: influencers being paid to provide positive reviews, bots generating reviews for businesses, customers being given incentives for 5-star reviews.

  • Updated Yelp Review Policies - Yelp has updated its review policies to prohibit asking for reviews at all. This is great for multiple reasons: prevents any purchase of review, doesn’t allow the offer of incentives, protects the purity of review ratings.

Google

  • Google Pledged to Remove Fraudulent Reviews in The Google Play Store In 2016 - Google made a promise to push forward to remove fraudulent reviews in 2016 after exterior pressure from the public and organizations focused on the Play Store.

  • Google Published Notice for Bloggers In 2016 - The notice published by Google gave the following warnings to bloggers looking to review products: they must disclose paid advertisement, any provided product must be disclosed, and nondisclosure will result in steep penalties.

Facebook

  • Facebook Pledged to Eliminate Fake Reviews in 2020 - In January 2020, Facebook made a pledge under pressure from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority to work harder to get rid of fake reviews on their website

  • Facebook Removed 16,000 Fake Review Trading Groups in April 2021 - Facebook has been proactive in policing communities; for example, in April 2021, they removed 16,000 groups trading in fake reviews.

  • Updated Facebook Community Standards on Fraud and Deception - Facebook updated community standards, strengthening regulations on what constitutes fraud and deception in an effort to stamp it out.

eBay

  • eBay Pledged To Eliminate Fake Reviews In January 2021 - After receiving pressure from CMA, eBay agreed to work harder on eliminating fake reviews in January of 2021.

  • eBay Authenticity Disclaimer Policy - There are restrictions placed by eBay that specifically prohibit the sale of counterfeit copies of any type, including digital files, designer bags, clothing, and more.

TripAdvisor

  • TripAdvisor Blocked/Removed Almost 1.5 Million Fake Reviews in 2018 - TripAdvisor combed through over 66 million reviews in an effort to strike fake reviews from their platform. All of the reviews went through advanced checks for fraud, and all in all, less than 3% of reviews were found to be fake.

  • TripAdvisor Content Integrity Policy -  TripAdvisor has multiple strict policies regarding their content, all intended to protect their userbase and readers.

AirBNB

  • Airbnb Review Policy On Fake Reviews - Airbnb employs policies to protect travelers from fraudulent listings and also features a system for reporting any reviews that customers feel are fraudulent.

Did You Know?


Sales can increase by 5% with a one-star rating increase for independent businesses, which is a huge effect.” — (Michael Luca, Professor at Harvard Business School). Collecting reviews from customers and clients is tantamount to success. Small, independent businesses should do so at every opportunity.

Company Review SiteResponses To Fake Reviews
Glassdoor

  • Glassdoor's Policy on Fraudulent Reviews - Glassdoor takes fraudulent reviews very seriously, aiming to protect both employees and employers.

TrustPilot

  • Trustpilot Removed Over 2.2 Million Fake Reviews In 2020 - TrustPilot employs over 70 people who work solely on finding and removing fraudulent reviews.  They sift through over 7,000 flagged reviews monthly.

  • Trustpilot’s Zero Tolerance Policy For Fake Reviews - Trustpilot has guidelines on who can and cannot write reviews, and have a strict ban on any fake reviews.

STAT: 48% of people believe that it is often hard to tell if online reviews are truthful and unbiased. (source)

Scholarly Publishing SitesResponses To Fake Reviews   
Springer Publishing

  • Springer Retracts 64 Articles After Fake Peer Review Discovery In 2015 - The discovery of fake peer reviews across multiple scholarly articles put Springer Publishing on hot water, and forced the company to retract 64 of them.

  • Springer Retracted Another 107 Papers After Finding More Fake Reviews In 2017 - Further evidence of the continued presence of fake reviews put the heat back onto the publishing company and forced Springer to once again pull papers from their journals. This time, they pulled over one hundred different articles.

  • Springer Retracts One Paper In 2020 Following Peer Review Evidence - In 2020, a paper was retracted by Springer because the author didn’t actually exist. This fake researcher was made up by a different group to make their research look more legitimate.

BioMed Central

  • BioMed Central Retracted 43 Articles Following Evidence Of Fabricated Reviews In 2015

  • BioMed Central’s Blog Statement Regarding Fraudulent Reviews - BioMed Central explicitly prohibits procuring any positive reviews for your papers. A research integrity team ensures that processes are followed internally and externally.

SAGE Publications

  • SAGE Publications Retracted 60 Papers Tied To Fake Peer Reviews In 2014SAGE Publications is one of the largest publishing houses for scientific papers and journals. In 2014, an internal investigation uncovered significant fraud through fake peer reviews.

Hindawi Publishing Corporation

  • Hindawi Publishing Corporation Retracted 10 Papers After Fake Reviews Discovered In 2015 - The papers were discovered during an internal investigation by Hindawi. As a result, Hindawi has been tightening its policies to ensure review quality.

Elsevier Publishing Corporation

  • Elsevier Retracted 26 Papers Due To Fake Peer Reviews - Elsevier first uncovered 13 papers before finding an additional 13. They cited unexplained authorship irregularities and peer-review manipulation as reasons.

Taylor & Francis

  • Taylor & Francis Statement Regarding Peer Review Ethics - Taylor & Francis provides multiple guidelines that editors must follow, including ensuring confidentiality and being aware of reviewer bias.

Committee On Publication Ethics

  • COPE’s Statement About Peer Review Manipulation in 2015 - COPE addressed the slew of false reviews being uncovered in leading publishing houses. They also warned authors and editors that third-party service providers were largely to blame.

FTC Taking Action Against Fake Reviews

The FTC has begun issuing lawsuits to companies engaging in the practice of fake reviews. The first lawsuit was issued in 2019 but the organization has followed suit with multiple lawsuits in the years since.

How Businesses Can Succeed Without Fake Reviews

Customers know when they’re being lied to. This is especially true with fake reviews. Success should be built on customer trust.

 

How To Get More Authentic Reviews

If you are looking for authentic reviews from actual customers, the first thing you should do is ask via email or contact form. Next, offer up free merch or swag to complete said review and be sure to follow up.

Did You Know?


95% of consumers reported that they suspect censorship or fake reviews when they don’t see bad scores on a product listing. — (Invesp’s “The State of Fake Reviews” Infographic).


Consider these steps to move from selling products to receiving real, useful reviews.

  1. Properly Test New Products – Start by creating a prototype using a 3D printer or a similar device. Bring this prototype in front of a focus group, gathering actionable data. Create a new prototype using the data amassed via the focus group. Rinse and repeat until satisfied.
  2. Throw A Launch Party and Get Testimonials There – Throwing a successful launch party starts by booking a venue, hiring food vendors, and bartenders. Be sure to invite the right people to your party, like members of the media and social media influencers. Entice attendees by offering free stuff.
  3. Set Up a Display In-Store Reminding Customers to Leave Reviews – Make sure you’re allowed to by the review company. Pick bright, aesthetically pleasing colors for your display. Do not promise any sort of reward or incentive for reviews.
  4. Try New Product Packaging Ideas – Try new packaging ideas to help your product stand out on store shelves or on e-commerce sites. Don’t be afraid to be bold, playful, or simple when needed.
  5. Develop Customer Relationships – Communication is key when it comes to developing customer relationships. If economically viable, set up a customer service support phone line or a live online chat. You should always try to exceed the expectations of the consumer. For instance, ship out an item early.
  6. Provide Quality Customer Service – Part of providing excellent customer service requires you to give concise self-service information for consumers so they aren’t filling up ticket queues. For those customers that need time with a customer service rep, make sure those reps provide a positive, helpful experience. More than half of consumers will simply stop doing business with a company after just one bad customer service experience.
  7. Respond Properly to Positive Reviews – Make sure to engage with positive reviews, by offering them personal, short responses. However, do NOT neglect negative reviews. Replying quickly to bad reviews and good reviews alike is key to maintaining continued customer engagement, especially because it takes around 12 positive reviews to make up for the damage a single negative review will have on a business. Fast replies are also important if you encounter a fake review; the sooner you can get on top of a fake review, the sooner you can get rid of it and keep it from harming your reputation.
  8. Make And Use Social Media Pages For Your Business – Outline a plan and give yourself clear goals and a timeline to reach. Make sure to study the social media campaigns of your competitors and see what is and isn’t working for them. Use these as lessons for how you should approach the campaign and take inspiration where you can so you can make more creative, original approaches to marketing to make you stand out.
  9. Try Email Marketing For Recent Customers – Believe it or not, email marketing is still huge and incredibly effective! Returns on investment can be as high as 4100%, so be sure to optimize email marketing campaigns for mobile and desktop alike, manage expectations effectively and follow through on all of your promises to your customers.
  10. Make It Easy For Customers To Leave Reviews – Set up your Google Business account, have a display showing where to leave a review and make your website easy to locate.

Getting Reviews On Specific Sites Legally

Some websites are meant to help you get reviews without breaking ToS. Messaging services, for example, can help you remind customers to leave reviews using their email address, mobile phone number, or other information they have provided you.

  • Getting More Reviews On Amazon – Asking for reviews on your products, as long as you aren’t asking friends and family, is perfectly acceptable. Delivering an incredibly high-quality product (like a good book, for example) also greatly increases your chances of receiving legitimate reviews, as well as positive ones, so always strive to deliver a good product.
  • Getting More Reviews On Google – Make sure you ask for reviews, get your business verified so people trust it is a legitimate venture, and reply to the reviews that you get.
  • Getting More Reviews On Yelp – Unlike other platforms, you CANNOT ask for reviews on Yelp, so your best bet is to instead keep your business page up to date, add a Yelp badge to your website to make it easier to leave reviews, and work Yelp branding into your store to remind people to review it. Responding to reviews is also an excellent way to help improve the likelihood you’ll get a review.
  • Getting More Reviews On Facebook – Getting reviews on Facebook can be as easy as just asking for them, either by embedding a reviews button onto your site, or sending a request to customers using a custom link you can get from your review settings page. Personalize messages are a great way of making a customer feel appreciated and help drive loyalty and engagement.
  • Getting More Reviews On The App Store – If you want review on your app, make it easy for your customers to do so from within your app. The less you interrupt the experience, the more likely you are to get feedback. You can also offer incentives for feedback in the form of contests, discounts and more when someone leaves a review.
  • Getting More Reviews On Etsy – Providing exceptional customer service, including a strong call-to-action for a review on your order confirmation emails, and replying to every review that you do get (positive OR negative) is an excellent way to start earning more reviews on Etsy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fake Reviews

Can verified purchase reviews ever be fake?

Yes, they absolutely can. Some reviewers might get a kick-back after purchase, some brands send reviewers money to buy the product upfront and other brands will reimburse in exchange for a high review.

Can we prevent fake reviews completely in the future?

Unfortunately, fake reviews are likely here to stay due to the nature of evolving technology. The more technology advances, the higher the advantage bots will have over security measures.

Are fake reviewers getting smarter in their reviewing?

As technology advances, scammers are gaining leverage with better tools, especially because the pressure of crackdowns is forcing fake reviewers to get smarter.

Is it better to manually check potential fake reviews or use software?

Manually checking reviews provides you the peace of mind of checking over something yourself. Automated software can be effective, but it really comes down to how good the software actually is.

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