Fake reviews and the trust economy

Amazon has announced it is suing 1000 authors of fake reviews.

User generated content and reviews help sell products and services.  Earlier this year, a report by ratings firm Reevoo found that:

  • 50% of consumers trust reviews over any other content source
  • 1 in 5 customers are happy to publish a review
  • Those who read reviews are over three times as likely to convert to a sale

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that about 54% of UK adults read online reviews and that potentially over £23bn of consumer spending a year is potentially influenced by online reviews.

This week Amazon has announced it is suing over a thousand users for posting fake reviews on its US website. This is the second legal action the website has taken in 2015 as it sets out to clean up the review process. 

The targets of Amazon’s latest move are freelance review writers who found review writing work via Fiverr.com.

How to spot a fake review

Researchers at Cornell University have created a simple tool that allows users to copy and paste hotel reviews and check their veracity.  The site claims it has an almost 90% success rate.  The researchers discovered intriguing parallels between fiction writing and dishonest reviewing (truth tellers use more nouns; dishonest reviewers use more verbs). Computer analysis of text found that truthful hotel reviews are more likely to use concrete words (bathroom, check-in for example) while deceptive reviews were more likely to use scene-setting words (business trip, vacation). 

Sources: The Guardian; MarketWatch.