We know that reviews have grown in importance lately, but so have the efforts to game the system as well. According to third-party analysis and reporting, platforms that are seeing this growing problem includes both Google Maps and Amazon.
There was a Washington Post report that came out on April 23 that found that the buying of fake reviews by merchants hoping to boost sales of their products is a widespread problem on Amazon. According to the report:
[F]or some popular product categories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers, the vast majority of reviews appear to violate Amazon’s prohibition on paid reviews . . .
Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook, where sellers seek shoppers on dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give glowing feedback in exchange for money or other compensation. The practice artificially inflates the ranking of thousands of products, experts say, misleading consumers.
“Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook,” says the Post. Basically, Fake reviews solicitation has become another version of “fake news” for the company.
During the Post’s investigation, it was found that there were some categories on Amazon where fake reviews comprised of at least all reviews. Consumers can be heavily influenced by positive reviews when it comes to buying and visibility on the site.
Reviews are an explicit ranking signal at Google for local results, but the company is, in turn, relying on volunteer contributors to help fight local review spam.
Some of the folks who are volunteering to fight spam are Joy Hawkins and Mike Blumenthal. They say that the review spam problem is only getting worse. It was cited in the same piece, which was written by by CNBC, that Yelp is doing the best job of controlling and cracking down on review spam.
When it comes to making purchases, consumers rely heavily on online reviews, which is why it’s important for this problem to get handled as soon as possible. Most consumers usually trust them, unless there are no critical reviews present.
Both Google and Amazon have made efforts on the corporate level to crack down on fake reviews. In 2015, Amazon filed a lawsuit against a solicitation company. Google took more steps in the attempt to reduce local and review spam.
Unfortunately, the problem will continue to intensify unless there’s some consistent enforcement.