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Reviews Spam - Where Will It End??!!

September 19 2011

I was speaking with a potential business partner the other day about deceptive reviews online and how bad the review problem’s become. I was explaining the length we go to verify reviews, but he didn’t believe the problem was big enough to justify the expense. He thought we were wasting our money.

Fake reviews are more prevalent than most people think. It’s not hard and doesn’t cost much. And the cheaters are getting pretty clever. See below:

Negative Review
A negative review (a real one) of a doctor posted on Yelp.

Positive Review 1 Doctor goes on the offensive, solicits positive reviews for money.

Positive Review 2
Notice how the reviews are pre-written, leaving nothing to chance.

Positive Review 3
Notice too the email addresses are @aol, @verizon. Hard to spot a fake.

DexKnows Review
A review on Dexknows for the same doctor. Real or fake?

Worst part is that people think they can spot fake reviews from a mile away. Wrong. A group of Cornell researchers put out a study recently that underscored how poorly humans judge deception.underscored how poorly humans judge deception. Savvy industry insiders are no exception. The person I pitched obviously thinks there’s no real problem here.

Sure, some portal sites put up Facebook Connect or ask for an email address when taking reviews. But sorry guys, Facebook Connect isn’t a filter (do you know how many people have fake personas on Facebook). And we all know about hotmail. If you can buy a positive review for $0.02 and the portals don’t really filter, what do you think is happening?

Our company is not going to stop investing in verification because we think it’s the right thing to do. Even though we set the hurdle high we still tend to catch a lot of deception (1 out of 50).

I’m curious. Has your brokerage or a real estate agent you know been impacted by this? How should sites that collect reviews address this problem?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

To view the original article, visit the ReachFactor blogReachFactor blog.