Amazon Reviews: Factual or Fakey?

May 15, 2019

Here’s a handy set of tips for the online shopper—LifeHacker tells us “How to Spot Fake Reviews on Amazon.” Writer Brendan Hesse grants there are innocent reasons for incorrect reviews at Amazon, like a user accidentally posting their review in the wrong place, or a software snafu inserting the wrong reviews into a product’s description. However, he writes:

“There are, of course, more suspicious motives for unrelated reviews to appear on the wrong products, such as attempting to artificially inflate (or deflate) a product or to dissuade buyers from a competitor. And even if the review is for the correct listing, there’s no shortage of reasons as to why it may be fake or misleading—whether that’s as part of a review-for-pay racket; ‘review bombing’ campaigns to change a product’s rating; ads masquerading as reviews; or those curious positive reviews with a one-star rating because the reviewer wants to send a message about shipping taking too long, or some other aspect of the transaction that doesn’t apply to the product itself. Whatever the case, these are easy to spot and deal with.”

First, he advises, don’t just skim the reviews—fake ones may be over-the-top (positive or negative), or they may spend a lot of words discussing a competing product. Also, many 1-star or five-star reviews with very little text in the description are probably fakes. Other tips include checking for the “verified purchase” badge next to a reviewers name and seeking reviews outside Amazon itself. We wonder—can software pick out the legit reviews for us? Unlikely.

Cynthia Murrell, May 15, 2019

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