It’s all over the Internet. Sources include the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Facebook, WikiHow, CNET, and the other major search engines, like Yahoo and Google. Just enter “Fake Amazon Reviews” or “Amazon Fake Reviews” into any search engine and up pop pages of articles on the topic.
I found the following article, which led me to start researching this hot topic, pertinent to BAIPA members.
The rise of fake Amazon reviews — and how to spot them by David Pogue (Aug 3, 2018)
To summarize his article: Our trust in customer reviews has been the only source of confidence in purchasing products online, since we can’t touch or test the products ourselves. Gaming the system by faking reviews becomes very appealing to bogus companies. There is an alarming rise in fake reviews, which calls all reviews into doubt. Who can trust any review when the abuse is widespread, including on Amazon itself?
Tactics include: 100%-off coupons — deals offered in Facebook groups that give a coupon good for the entire purchase price, so that the review says “Verified Purchase” (Amazon- approved) in exchange for five-star reviews; bot armies –people or software write fake five-star reviews; bait-and-switch — substituting different products in place of a product that received a five-star review; praise-your-enemies trick – leave crude, obviously phony five-star reviews for competitors’ products; and others.
Spot fakes by doing the following: check the reviewer’s profile and reviewer’s wish list; look at the three- and four-star reviews — they’re most likely real; watch out for one-worders and compensated-reviews; beware the Amazon Vine; trust older reviews (before 2013); and more.
FakeSpot is a site whose algorithms help you weed out fake reviews from Amazon — or Yelp, TripAdvisor, or the Apple app store; the site gives each product’s reviews a letter grade for trustworthiness, and explains its reasoning. FakeSpot also shows you how many of the reviews it suspects are bogus, and clearly explains the reasoning behind the decision.
ReviewMeta actually recalculates the Amazon star rating for you, based only on the reviews it suspects to be valid.
The fake-review problem is getting worse, and Amazon now makes it very easy to report a review that you suspect is fake. The company bans sellers and fake-review accounts by the thousands; it uses machine learning to improve and anticipate the sellers’ ever-evolving tactics. Amazon also works with Facebook to shut down those “free stuff for five-star review” groups, and has filed over a thousand lawsuits against sellers and fake reviewers.
It’s no longer enough to be a good judge of value and quality when you shop; now, you’re expected to be a good judge of the reviews that are supposed to guide you.
Protect yourself and your professional reputation. When you seek reviews from readers, friends, and those to whom you give your book in exchange for a review, alert them to the prevalence of fake reviews and acquaint them with the tools to ensure valid reviews.
The following website purports to expose fakes. Check it out for yourself. Amazon Alert; Your Guide to Unethical Authors.