Fake reviews hurt consumers and businesses. Let’s see how you can spot them – or, better still, prevent them from being written in the first place.
Online reviews have been a true revolution in the way we purchase products and services. According to statistics compiled by Invesp, 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. But 72% of interrogated people also believe that fake reviews have become a norm of the industry.
They’re not far off. Review sites such as Capterra, TrustPilot, or Google Reviews are littered with low-quality or plainly fraudulent reviews.
Official reports from the World Economic Forum states that the rate of fake to real reviews hovers around the 4% mark. A report by the Guardian calculated that 3.6% of all reviews on Tripadvisor were fraudulent.
Here’s why fake reviews cause a problem for online businesses:
It’s also increasingly a compliance issue. In the US, for instance, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 aims to crack down on fake reviews. Similarly, the UK government is deploying arbitration and mediation processes, which include auditing website reviews.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s business secretary stated that:
“The UK’s economic recovery relies on the strength of our open markets and consumers’ faith in them. By delivering on our commitment to bolster our competition regime, we’re giving businesses confidence that they’re competing on fair terms and the public confidence they’re getting a good deal.”
One reason fake reviews are so commonplace is that there are a lot of incentives. Firstly, you could be selling them directly to unscrupulous businesses. There is no shortage of online services that offer to create fake reviews for you (for a price).
Fraudsters, meanwhile, will also use the same tactics to give credibility to their own products or services. Fake reviews may influence unsuspecting consumers, who end up:
All of the above conspires to create an environment of mistrust for your users, which, in turn, reflects poorly on your own reputation.
While most review sites have a filter in place to detect fake online reviews, sometimes it’s up to you to perform due diligence. Here are tips on spotting fake reviews:
Of course, the best way to remove fake reviews from your site is to prevent them from being written in the first place.
The good news is that you will probably have some kind of sign-up process designed to let users create an account before they can review an item or service.
You can use the signup data to screen suspicious users before they even get a chance to write a review. You decide what is deemed suspicious, and set up monitoring alerts, which let your team know immediately when something looks wrong.
One of the best ways to flag spammy and low-effort accounts is to look at a user’s alternative data. For instance, you could check the email address or phone number they give to answer the following questions:
By gathering all that information, you can gain a fairly good idea of whether you’re dealing with a good reviewer or not.
Then there’s the information that’s built into the user’s connection. This can answer questions such as:
Another way to block suspicious user reviews is to identify what is known as multi-accounting. Put simply, it points to the same user logging in under different personas. It’s not always clear-cut fraud (for instance, it could be different family members sharing a computer), but the most likely scenario is that you’re dealing with an organized group of fraudsters.
So how do you spot these fraud rings? Using the same tools mentioned above to answer the following questions:
Once again, this doesn’t always point to fraud. But the picture should become clearer if you also look at the account owners’ behavior on your site.
If you can log data relating to user actions, you can create risk rules designed to answer specific questions.
There are specific tools you can use to analyze user behavior. In fraud prevention, a common solution is to deploy velocity rules, which look at user actions over a set time frame (e.g. how often to they leave a review after logging in).
The language analysis is a bit more complex. You will need to deploy specific Natural Language Processing tools (NLP), which are increasingly available via a SaaS model, for instance with companies such as MonkeyLearn or Aylien.
Are fake reviews illegal?
Yes. Writing a fake review is considered to promote unfair trading, which falls under consumer protection laws.
How to spot a fake review easily?
The easiest way to spot a fake review is to look at the poster’s account details and to look for similar reviews written in the same style. You may be looking at organized groups paid to write reviews, which is why the language will be similar.
Article Source: seon.io
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