You spot that Smart HD 3D TV you’ve always wanted on Amazon. There is a great offer going, the product has rave reviews and a solid 5-star rating. You swing your credit card into action, sign up for EMIs and place your order. After all, there has got to be some merit to a product if so many users are endorsing it. However, your excitement fizzles out when your purchase doesn’t quite live up to the reputation of a slice of heaven it was made out to be. It is then you realise that fake reviews are a full-fledged trick being propelled by companies, employees or stakeholders with vested interest in selling a product by artificially inflating ratings. So does that mean you should never trust a review again? Well, the internet has an effective anti-dote for every malpractice, and fake reviews are no exception. Try these:
Fakespot is a site dedicated to identifying fake or unreliable reviews and happens to be the one of the most popular online platforms for the job. The site’s algorithm is trained to suss out ‘unreliable’ reviews and give an overall rating indicating the quality of reviews a product has garnered. You simply need to copy and paste the product URL from the online store into Fakespot’s search engine and it’ll instantly give you a reality check on the authenticity of reviews. In addition to Amazon reviews, the site also analyses reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and Apple’s App Store. It is also available as a browser extension for Google Chrome and Firefox.
ReviewMeta is another free site that works on the lines of Fakespot to help users differentiate between good and bad quality reviews. The focus here is not so much on calling out ‘fake’ reviews but spotting ‘unnatural’ ones that take on exaggeratedly positive or negative tones. The site puts existing reviews and ratings through 12 different tests to spot any suspicious or unnatural elements and then re-works the ratings to a more realistic value. It also offers a quality check on the reviews with Pass, Warn or Fail grades. For now, ReviewMeta only works for Amazon and is available as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.
Try these too
While these online tools are of great assistance in identifying fake reviews accurately, a little attention to detail and some common sense can also do the trick. Here are some tips for spotting fake reviews when you don’t have time for a full-blown analysis: Scrutinise the language: Look at the language, sentence structure and style of writing. If a review reads more like an advert, with dramatic appreciation for the product, there is a good chance that it is fake. Multiple typos, poor sentence structure and generous use of all caps words are also signs of a bad quality review. Similarly, if your find certain word such as company name or the product name stuffed in unnaturally, it is certainly a fake review written for the sake of search engine optimisation. Focus on detail: If you spot specific details of what a user likes or dislikes about a product, the review comes from a genuine user. On the other hand, despite singing praises of a product, if a review reads generic in nature, there is a good chance that the reviewer hasn’t used the product and his views are motivated by vested interests. Look at the reviewer’s profile: If you have been spotting short, formulaic reviews from a particular user too often, click on their username to see the products they have reviewed in the past. If there is a long list of similar reviews written at regular intervals, it most certainly is the classic case of incentivised reviews. Report inauthentic ones: An Amazon spokesperson told The Tribune, “Customers can report suspicious reviews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we investigate each claim. We take forceful action against both reviewers and sellers by suppressing reviews that violate our guidelines and suspend, ban or pursue legal action against these bad actors.”
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