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Are we awash in a sea of fabricated reviews?

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Yahoo! Inc.

(Read caption) Cornell University researchers check for an excessive number of superlatives to determine if an online book review is for real.

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That book? Oh, we loved it. Gripping, suspenseful, couldn’t put it down. A real page-turner.

Sound like an online review you recently read? It might be a fake.

From Amazon to Trip Advisor to Yelp, we’re awash in a sea of fabricated reviews, according to a recent piece in The New York Times.

“As online retailers increasingly depend on reviews as a sales tool, an industry of fibbers and promoters has sprung up to buy and sell raves for a pittance,” writes David Streitfeld in his piece, “In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5” .

If sounds, sadly, like the slick operations of an under-the-table ninth-grade history-paper-writing scheme.

Independent companies hire people to write glowing reviews of things they know nothing about – including books they haven’t read – for a quick buck, then sell those reviews to online retailers.

“For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business,” pitched an entrepreneur on the help-for-hire site fiverr, reported the Times. On another forum, Digital Point, a poster wrote, “I will pay for positive feedback on TripAdvisor.” A Craigslist post proposed this: “If you have an active Yelp account and would like to make very easy money please respond.”

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