As we tackle the year 2020, we are continuing to see the problems and risks to the entire ecommerce landscape from fake reviews. Just as unbalanced reporting and misleading advertising can skew everything from politics to commodity prices, fake reviews are destroying small businesses and undermining the confidence of every online consumer.
What’s Happening with Fake Reviews?
Just last month, a web promoter began expanding its ‘Review Generator’ service for Air-BnB operators. The service promises to deliver glowing 5-star reviews of any Air-BnB site and bury any negative reviews by constantly posting fresh fake positive reviews, thereby pushing any 3-star or less reviews, further down the list.
Also last month, a fake review service that claimed they had a “Great 2018 & 2019” pushed their prices even lower in 2020, allowing anyone to buy 10 ‘Positive’ Google reviews for $80. And this provider is merely one in a sea of thousands of similar fake review generator sites that are being used, not only to boost ratings on retailers own sites, but are also being used to bury competitors in fake ‘negative’ reviews as well.
And even though Google states “Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings. Don’t post fake content, don’t post the same content multiple times, and don’t post content for the same place from multiple accounts.” Making it very clear that they do not allow such behavior, it not only persists, but is a very profitable, and regrettably, successful segment of the online commerce community.
As CBS reported in February of 2019, the scourge of fake reviews hits the big players just as much as the smaller ones. Big online names including Amazon, Walmart and nearly every other major retailer has evidence of fake reviews, permeating their sites.
According to a study from Fakespot, a fake review checker site that performs online customer review analysis looking for fake or unreliable reviews, fake reviews are increasingly prevalent across the top retailer websites.
Just some of the reported numbers, give insight to depth and breadth of the problem:
- 52 percent of reviews posted on Walmart.com are estimated to be “inauthentic and unreliable”.
- The study found that 30 percent of Amazon reviews are fake or unreliable.
- And approximately a third of reviews on makeup retailer Sephora and video-game service Steam are similarly unreliable or fake.
The Negative Toll of Fake Reviews
These fake reviews not only threaten to undermine the credibility of major retailers, even the smaller operators (usually with many competitors in a niche business segment) are hit often with fake negative reviews by unscrupulous competing sites, paying to destroy the competition.
Manufacturers are increasingly moving to a direct-to-consumer model, that actively engages or partners with big players like Amazon, to reach a broader audience and the deep Amazon consumer pool. As a result, they are eager to secure maximum 5-star reviews and push their products to the top of the search results on Amazon. And many have found the cost to simply ‘buy’ huge pools of glowing, positive 5-star reviews is extremely cheap and highly effective.
After the CBS report, in a statement sent to CBS MoneyWatch, Walmart said it recognizes that reviews are “an important part of the Walmart shopping experience.” It added that it moderates all reviews. “If we do not believe a review is from an actual customer, we immediately remove it from our site,” the company said.
Amazon similarly replied, stating that it invests “significant resources” in maintaining the quality of its reviews. “Even one inauthentic review is one too many” they added. They also noted that they have posted participation guidelines for reviewers and companies that sell on its site, and it added that it suspends, bans and takes legal action against those who violate its policies.
Now – Amazon is huge and has significant resources to combat fake reviews when it wants to. In fact, it does take reactive approach at times, suing more than 1000 third-party fake review sites. But again, this is reactive, not proactive, and the fake review cottage industry is alive and well today, in 2020.
The Power of Fake Reviews
Nearly anyone considering an online purchase of a product or service, fully understands the power of online customer reviews, or at least has been an unsuspecting victim of a fake review. With 90% of Yelp users stating that a positive review influenced their purchasing choice, this is very clearly a strong motivator to drive the modern retailer into exploring review creation and collection. Yet, on that very point, a study conducted by the Harvard Business School, found that about 20% of Yelp reviews are fake as well.
So, this begs the question – What can be done to properly collect and validate reviews (positive or negative) in a fair, proven and unbiased way? One that allows a permanent record to be maintained throughout a product or service life cycle and beyond? That very solution is what drove Rebusify to be created and built upon, the proven immutable record thread inherent to blockchain technology.
The important component to resolving the fake review problem for everyone (Retailer and Consumer alike) is to provide a consistent and level playing field, that neither rewards or punishes either consumers, retailers or their competitors in a pay-to-play format. A platform that does not allow one to ‘purchase’ or buy a flood of fake reviews, simply builds trust far faster and better for everyone.
What Can Be Done About Fake Reviews?
With so many reports, investigations and even FTC complaints and lawsuits targeting fake reviews, it is clear that only a fully transparent, equitable, unbiased and completely fair review system that allows anyone to examine entire transactions with confidence, is the solution.
The Rebusify Confidence System is not only named for this very reason, it is built entirely around the very ethos of restoring and building upon the importance of trusted reviews. The very fabric of online consumer protection and confidence can only be realized when a trusted system exists for retailers and consumers to report and share their experiences.
Online reviews on millions of products and services we purchase every day, need to be properly collected, proven to be valid, and stored in a recorded state that can never be deleted or modified. Millions of consumers reply upon the ubiquitous “5-Star” review, and far too often – It is a fake review.
It is time to provide consumers with a review platform that allows everyone to confidently know and trust, that those 5-star reviews are genuine. It is time – For Rebusify.
Check out the Verified Reviews WooCommerce Extension for WordPress.
Fake Reviews FAQ
Can fake reviews destroy my business?
Absolutely. In fact it happens every day. Fake negative reviews are done by competitors, ex-employees and people with an ax to grind.
Do people actually read fake reviews?
Yes, over 90% of ecommerce users will research reviews of merchants before they buy hence why fake negative reviews can destroy any ecommerce business.
How do you stop fake negative reviews?
Big review sites don't care about fake reviews. They care about the money it helps the generate. To stop fake reviews you could use companies like Rebusify to help you post only verified customer reviews.
Can reputation companies really remove fake reviews?
No, they can't. They claim they can but the reality is that they can't. What some can do is try to bury the review result on Google with other links. Its' very hard to do and they charge thousands for it.