Will online reviews keep their Teflon reputation?
A number of reports point to user-generated online reviews being besieged by fraudulent posts. Despite this, a YouGov survey again showed most consumers trust the reviews they read online.
Among U.S. respondents to the survey taken in late April, 54 percent say they trust such sites, 21 percent say they distrust them and 24 percent were undecided. Among 18-39 year olds, 66 percent say they trust review sites. Overall, 78 percent of Americans found online reviews useful.
The reliability of reviews is being questioned by the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which on June 25 launched a formal probe into whether Amazon.com and Google are doing enough to combat fake reviews.
“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” said Andrea Coscelli, CMA’s CEO, in a statement. “Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”
On June 16, Amazon in a blog entry called out social media firms for not doing enough to weed out dishonest reviews. Amazon has stated that less than one percent of the reviews on its platform are fake, but noted in the statement that the company stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 before they were seen by customers.
The Fake Online Reviews 2021 report from CHEQ and the University of Baltimore estimated that about four percent of global reviews from major platforms are fake. Beyond competitor attacks, fake reviews are often created and sold in underground markets at a commission rate of 25 cents to $100 per review, according to the report. Increasingly, they’re written by AI-driven bots tied to paid search and social-media campaigns.
“Given the size of the market, the ease of entry and the immediate economic benefits, bad actors remain highly incentivized to engage in fake reviews,” Roberto Cavazos, co-author and director of Risk Management and Cybersecurity programs at The University of Baltimore, told Infosecurity Magazine. “This complex market is adversely influencing our purchases, causing significant economic detriment, creating real revenue losses for businesses, and severely diminishing trust in online purchasing.”
- Most consumers trust review sites. Here’s what they use them for most – YouGov
- CMA to investigate Amazon and Google over fake reviews – CMA
- Creating a trustworthy reviews experience – Amazon.com
- The Economic Cost Of Bad Actors On The Internet Fake Online Reviews 2021 – CHEQ/University of Baltimore
- Fake Online Reviews Linked to $152 Billion in Global Purchases – Infosecurity Magazine
- Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings Are Still a Problem for Amazon – The Wall Street Journal
- Amazon, Google Probed in U.K. Over Fake Reviews – The Wall Street Journal
- What should retailers do when brands post fake reviews? – RetailWire
- Would Amazon and Google benefit from publishing fake consumer reviews? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How is it that fake online reviews have yet to negatively affect consumer trust levels? Will the pervasiveness of fake reviews likely expand or diminish over the next few years?