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Are Amazon Reviews to be Trusted?

For the last decade or so, online reviews have grown to become an integral part of our lifestyle. One cannot argue that most people today rely on the internet – particularly online reviews – for most of their product research. And as much as getting broad feedback on a specific product can be very useful, it is very important for consumers to know that a large chunk of these reviews are not only fake but user-generated to improve revenue for the business without considering the customer.

The genesis of fake reviews was witnessed on Yelp two weeks after the site was launched. And that paved way for major revelations regarding fake reviews on companies such as Amazon, Expedia.com, TripAdvisor, among others who have had significant number of their clients master the art of “Fake It Till You Make It” flooding their products with fake reviews. Apart from this, there are other reasons why you shouldn’t put all your trust on online reviews, which include:

Availability of an online marketplace for fake reviews

Believe it or not, there are sites such as freelancer.com, odesk, iwriter, and others that have jobs posted offering writers average-paying jobs for generation of fake reviews. This is enough reason to raise eye-brows because there many companies both big and small that rely on this service.

Companies giving handouts in exchange for reviews

New York Times recently feature in one of its stories an article that exposed a company known as VIP Deals that has been repaying customers for their tablet-case purchases once they posted a review on Amazon. The strangest part was the fact that out of 335 reviews on the product, 310 received a 5-star rating. These reviews would definitely draw any ingenuous consumer to spend on that product.

About 30% of online reviews for certain product or service are fake

According to Bing Liu University of Illinois, a professor in computer science who has been working on a software solution to expose fake reviews, about 30% of online reviews for certain product or service are fake. Although many reviews on Amazon may be legitimate, there are more sketchy companies found within the 30% margin turning to compensated reviews to inflate star ratings on the site so as to drum up purchases.

It’s for the above reasons you need few ways to sniff out what may be fake review before using the given product or service. The easiest way is to use legitimate sites that offer product authentication focusing on reviews. For example Fakespot is a site that allows you to simply paste a link to any Amazon product, and later a score will be generated regarding the likelihood of fake reviews. Although we cannot prove that it is 100% effective, it is worth a try. You can also approach it manually by looking out on the use of same wording, and even similarly staged used photo on different reviews.

Whereas user-generated reviews should be viewed with caution, even critic reviews can be written with a hidden agenda as well. That's why it's important to find trusted online reviews. For example, this website aggregates online critic reviews in order to rate a product, such as wrestling shoes. Although it's not 100% accurate, there's a lot less shady business going on compared to user generated reviews.

Online reviews may be a good thing to many but they must be honestly administered and not open to manipulation for them to be reliable. It is important that companies display an ethical practice of coming up with honest ways that will help make sure that reviews are only done by valid customers.

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