Spotting a Fake Review

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In the vast world of e-commerce, reviews are seen as one of the most powerful references when making a purchase. Products with positive reviews are more likely to be bought over products with negative reviews. Consumers are more likely to buy a product with a five-star review because they want something that is both dependable and reliable. On sites like Amazon and Walmart, we expect product reviews to be real. But what happens when a review turns out to be fake?

Fake Reviews

In 2018, a former employee for the makeup company Sunday Riley leaked an internal email on Reddit. In the email, a company employee asked other employees to write at least "three reviews" for a Sunday Riley product on Sephora's website.

The Redditor wrote, "I’m sharing this because I’m no longer an employee there and they are one of the most awful places to work, but especially for the people who shop us at Sephora because a lot of the really great reviews you read are fake"

The email also gave employees tips on how to make a fake review look real. They were also given access to a company VPN to hide their IP addresses.

On Monday, October 21st, the Federal Trade Commission charged Sunday Riley and Mrs. Riley with two violations of the FTC Act: 1) making false or misleading claims that the fake reviews reflected the opinions of ordinary users of the products; and 2) deceptively failing to disclose that the reviews were written by Ms. Riley or her employees.

One thing this scandal does is make us think about the hundreds of fake reviews that go unchecked.

How to tell if a review is fake

Gossip

Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering how to differentiate between a fake review and the real deal. There are eight qualities to look for when determining if a review is fake or not.

1. Consider the length and tone of the review

If the review is extremely short there is a chance that it's a fake. Real reviews are usually more than five sentences long. If the review is vague and has little detail about the product, it may be a fake.

2. Check to see if the review uses emotional language

An objective review will usually summarize or critique the content or features of the product. If the review was written by someone who works for the company it might be biased, describing the product as "wonderful" or "great". If the review is written by a rival the review can also be biased, describing the product as "pathetic" or "a waste of time".

3. See whether the reviewer has written other reviews

If the reviewer doesn't usually write reviews, it may not be genuine. Check to see if the user has written other reviews for similar products.

4. Check to see if the person has submitted multiple reviews in a short period

If someone is getting paid to write reviews, they will have a great deal of short, five-star reviews. Click "see all reviews" next to that person's name to see what else they have written.

5. Be skeptical if the review admits a bias

If the reviewer doesn't mention the performance of the product or can't give detail on a book, then you can tell that the review is at risk for being fake. Sometimes, a low-star review will talk about a specific aspect of the product without any indication that they have tried it.

6. Determine if the product was a verified product

When evaluating a review, you might want to know if the person bought it from Amazon. If they did, there will be an orange "verified purchase" badge under the reviewer's name. This indicates that they actually ordered and received the product.

7. Consider whether the reviewer was given the product for free, in exchange for writing a review.

The review must disclose if the reviewer was given an item for free in exchange for a review.

8. Look at the "Customers also bought" section

Usually, this section contains products similar or complementary to the product you're looking at. If this section is loaded with products that have nothing to do with the product, something might be going on. This could mean that these products are being gifted in exchange for reviews or that the reviewer is being paid by a third-party.

Using Reviewbox to filter out fake reviews

Reviewbox gives you the ability to easily track, monitor, and respond to product reviews. Get an email or Slack notification when you receive new reviews or questions. You can filter based on stars and set multiple recipients. With review monitoring, you can easily respond to reviews you think might be fake.

 

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