Fake Reviews are Pervasive. How do You Avoid Them?

By now, we are all aware that there are less scrupulous businesses that post fake reviews. We all want to avoid fake reviews, but how? Fake reviews are very pervasive; a recent article (Nov 6th 2019) by BrightLocal cites the following statistics:

• 74% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year
• 89% of 18-34-year-olds have read a fake review in the last year
• One in seven TripAdvisor reviews could be fake
• 61% of electronics reviews on Amazon are fake
• 55,000 fake reviews are generated on Facebook per month
• UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) estimates fake reviews potentially influence £23bn of UK customer spending each year

An article on the Washington Post on Aug 24th 2018, cited questionable reviews are crowding out authentic ones.

On Amazon, questionable customer reviews are crowding out authentic ones

I took a look at a fake reviews spotter tool called https://www.fakespot.com/ and ran a few products on Amazon.com through it. It is quite shocking how many fake reviews there are. Take the one below as an exmaple. A JBL Bluetooth speaker with a “Amazon’s Choice” mark. It has 7,953 ratings giving it an average of 4.5 stars. I then ran this listing through Fakespot’s analysis tool.

A product listing on Amazon.com with 7,953 ratings averaging 4.5 stars
A product listing on Amazon.com with 7,953 ratings averaging 4.5 stars

The results of the analysis is shown in the diagram below. According the Fakespot, only 46.1% of the reviews for this product are reliable. It determined that there is “high deception” involved. Take a look for yourself: http://www.fakespot.com.

Fake reviews outnumber real ones. Fakespot reports that inauthentic reviews actually dominate the product categories above. In other words, there is a greater percentage of fake reviews than legitimate ones:

Electronics: 61 percent
Beauty: 63 percent
Sneakers: 59 percent
Supplements: 64 percent

Fake reviews are a serious problem not only for consumers, but also honest businesses. Honest businesses are adversely hurt by not participating in the fake review game. As of today, there is not an effective way for review platforms to combat fake reviews.

What can we do to Avoid Fake Reviews? Ask Friends?

Review platforms and business competitors will tell you to report suspicious reviews to the host platforms, and the platforms would punish or ban businesses that purchase reviews. However, fake reviewers are getting more savvy, and it is not easy to spot them. If they were easy to spot, then the statistics shown above would not be so pervasive.

Of course, one solution is getting recommendations from you friends, people you can trust. For one, this will effectively eliminate the concern of fake reviews, and, if enough people are avoiding ratings from the general public, fake reviewers would be in less demand.

But for most of us, we do not know enough people to get sufficient coverage of all the types of places and products we would like to get recommendations for. For example, what if you wanted to find a good, authentic Korean restaurant in Hong Kong? What are the chances your friends, accessible to you now, know most of the Korean restaurants in Hong Kong? Chances are they know a few Korean restaurants and perhaps one they consider authentic, but there could be others that are better. Our immediate circle of friends generally does not have first-hand experience at a sufficient number of establishments for us to feel that we would get comparably-good recommendations.

Not Enough Friends? Ask People Like You Instead

An alternative to having a lot of friends who would be willing to provide recommendations is to have a community of people who share the same values, interests and lifestyle as yourself. Asking community members for recommendations is evidently effective. Just look at Facebook Groups, Reddit, and Quora to name a few. Community members tend to provide trustworthy recommendations because members of a community are not anonymous – instead most communities require invitations to join. By not being able to hide behind anonymity, members’ reputation are at stake when making recommendations.  

We created the Bumping App so that we can avoid fake reviews and feel safer about getting recommendations. The Bumping App fosters communities of like-minded people to share recommendations on places, services and products, and curates the recommendations so that finding what you are looking for and discovering things and places that interests you are trustworthy, easy and fun. 

Take a look at the Bumping App for yourself.

Sources:
https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/fake-reviews-are-a-real-problem-8-statistics-that-show-why/#:~:targetText=74%25%20of%20consumers%20have%20read,(more%20on%20that%20shortly).
https://marketingland.com/study-finds-61-percent-of-electronics-reviews-on-amazon-are-fake-254055
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/how-merchants-secretly-use-facebook-to-flood-amazon-with-fake-reviews/2018/04/23/5dad1e30-4392-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html