False reviews are everywhere on the net and they have probably affected some of your purchases. Fake reviews can be positive or negative, and they are obviously unethical and harmful. But they are symptoms of a major problem with e-commerce and online platforms.
Reviews are worth their weight in gold
In the e-commerce world, reviews are the best sign of success or failure. Sure, a number of good reviews show that a product has been sold well and that people like it, but it's more than just that. Reviews are the ultimate ad form.
Companies that have good reviews get a lot of free exposure. On sites like Amazon and Yelp, products and pages that have good reviews are shown in the search results. They are suggested for users based on interests, and they are also sent out in email campaigns or marked with labels such as "Amazon's Choice."
And while exposure doesn't guarantee sales make good reviews. According to a BrightLocal study, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust friends. It's an incredible statistic because it suggests that a poorly written 50-word review by a stranger can hold as much complaint as a positive recommendation from someone you trust. In essence, the exposure and the gap that companies receive from good reviews is a powerful e-commerce formula.
In some ways, this formula feels a little too easy. But it actually creates a very competitive market that is easy to use. Well-managed companies can easily overshadow competitors, and products or pages with bad reviews are hidden from customers via site algorithms.
This makes sense. Of course, Amazon and Yelp do not want you to associate their sites with crappy products. But bad reviews can simply break a reputable company, especially a small or new company struggling to find a foothold in the market.
You probably realized where this is going. Companies need good reviews to stay afloat, so they pay people to write false reviews.
Who writes these fake reviews Anyway?
Robots or AI do not make the majority of false reviews; actual people do. It turns out that sites like Amazon are pretty good at capturing bot activity, and it helps that most cached reviews stand out as a sore thumb (there are even sites like Fakespot that can get AI-written reviews). [1
But, like other forms of online policing, fake-review takedowns are done manually, usually a site will simply target reviews Looks like "inauthentic". Yelp, for example, tends to remove badly written reviews through inactive accounts or accounts clearly driven by a bot.The site also uses IP addresses to find suspicious reviews.If a restaurant in Idaho has 15 Yelp reviews from an Australian IP address you can assume there is some fraud
So if you are a company that wants to pay for some fake reviews, your best bet is to find US residents active on sites like Amazon and Yelp. Ideally, your fake reviewers are easy to find and willing to do about 10 minutes of peanut work. It turns out that freelance writers fit the bill and there are websites like Upwork, Fiverr, Guru and Freelancer.com that exist only for companies finding and hiring freelance writers, often for low payment details.
Keep in mind that many companies are actually using fake reviewers through a marketing company, so an intermediary may be involved.
Freelance sites facilitate false reviews
Yes, it's a bit of a dirt hole. If the worklists keep their business vague, they can hire employees for just about anything. Do you need an example? I searched for "Yelp" on Upwork, and I found a job that makes a vague request for "experienced Yelp users." This specific employer is looking for 65 authors and wants to pay them $ 2 each.
It sounds good and dusty, but most companies don't want to release their products in exchange for bad or lukewarm reviews. Companies that play this game tell their potential reviewers that there is extra compensation for good, detailed reviews.
Fake Review System is also available on social media
When most people think of fake reviews, they like websites like Amazon, Yelp or Trip. But to understand how big and complicated this phenomenon (and e-commerce as a whole) is, you need to look at how companies use the "false reviews" system on social media.
Let's focus on Reddit. If you are not familiar with Reddit, it is basically a forum-based website that contains all niche communities that can be imagined. There are subreddits dedicated to boat enthusiasts, MMORPG fans, fashion lovers and PC nerds.
These communities, along with most other suditdits on Reddit, are tempting targets for a company. If a company that manufactures game buttons succeeds in getting its product to the top of Reddit's PC Gaming forum, they effectively market their brands to 1.2 million obvious PC players. In addition, a well-known Reddit post by said keyboard company may look like a will of a hardcore player. And as we already know, 84% of people trust online reviews and reviews as much as they trust their friends.
So how do you get to the top of a Reddit forum? Well, the content on Reddit that has many ascents becomes more exposure, which is similar to how well-reviewed products on Amazon get more exposure. Conversely, Reddit posts are concealed with downvotes from users of the site's algorithms. Of course, you can purchase listings from a website such as BoostUpvotes. And while you probably assume an army of bot accounts states these and comments, they're done manually, just like fake reviews on Amazon and Yelp.
If you don't think companies are using Reddit for marketing purposes, then Google "how to market on Reddit" or "how to sell my product on Reddit." You will find some interesting guides, such as Dreamgrows "How to use Reddit in your product marketing strategy." When a marketing guide has detailed sections like "Avoid being banned" and "Creating a profile that feels right", you know you're popping into the realms of unethical business practices.
The fake review e-commerce machine has found its way to social media sites, and it's a bit bizarre. It is a sign that misleading and unethical business practices have permeated the network, and that companies are desperate to maintain market share in the online world.
Fake Reviews Benefit from Snowball Effect
We know that websites give more exposure to products and content that have good reviews, and they tend to hide poorly ranked content. But sites like Amazon and Reddit can't just show you the highest ranked content all the time. New products and services must be able to find their way to the top.
The success of an Amazon product or the Reddit post depends almost entirely on their first reviews. Web page algorithms put more emphasis on a brand new post or product if it has some good reviews, which increases the product or post's chance of success. Conversely, a brand new item or product with poor reviews will fall into obscurity and is bound to error. This is called the snowball effect.
The snowball effect is an easy way to drive new, new content to popularity. It is also an easy way to dig out bad content and bad products. But here it is – it's hard for a brand new product to get any reviews, even if a well-known company manufactures it. This snowball effect primarily rewards people who pay for fake reviews, or, in the case of Reddit, fake voices.
Let's pretend that you are just finished writing a Romanesque novel. You put it on Amazon's Kindle store, but it's not going well. It gets some downloads, and it has a single three-star review. Of course, your novel disappears in the swamp of unpopular self-published books, and you haven't made a single dollar from your work.
But, if you decide to publish the book again with 20 false reviews? Yes, Amazon can suggest it to customers. It may appear in the "similar" box under other books or in email marketing. Your book may come at the top of any search results, and if you do enough sales, your previously failed Romanesque novel may end up on a bestseller list.
This sounds like a wild "what-if" scenario, but a lot happens. The snowball effect is so integrated into a product's success that books full of literal nonsense can climb up to the Amazon Bestseller list using some fake reviews. As you can imagine, even legitimate and talented writers must play Amazon's algorithms to gain exposure, especially when writers with similar books rely on false reviews for success.
You can also buy bad reviews if you feel bad  Have you ever felt the weird feeling of relief (or disappointment) after reading a negative product review? It's like you wanted to buy this thing, but you know you've lost a bullet because of a review. Well, you might not avoid a bullet. Perhaps you have been tampered with by a false review.
Bad reviews, dislikes and countdowns are meant to tell when a product is not worth your time. But, as good reviews, bad reviews affect the sites' exposure algorithms. When a product on Amazon or a post on Reddit has bad reviews, it is removed, and it is not suggested to users by search results. It's like the snowball effect in reverse. As strange as it sounds, you can buy bad reviews, downvotes and dislike hurting competitors. This practice is so common that there are online guides on how to handle negative fake reviews "with the class."
This unethical bad review technique can be devastating for a company, especially on Amazon. The site deals with a seriously falsified problem, so it has some automated systems in place to protect buyers from fraud. If a product gets very bad reviews in a short time, the person selling that product will be turned off from Amazon. Automatically.
In a fascinating video of The Wall Street Journal, Chinese business owners describe how false reviews have sabotaged them. On key business days like Black Friday, aggressive companies are trying to get their competitors off the Amazon. They will buy up a lot of bad fake reviews and dominate the market temporarily.
These techniques are grossly unethical and they reinforce the status assessment for false review. When a company falls victim to sabotage-for-false scrutiny, they must rewind quickly. Otherwise, they can go bankrupt. How can a company bounce back quickly? Well, it can pay writers to leave good product reviews!
Fake Reviews Is A Symptom Of A Major Problem
It's easy to get stuck in the debt game. Fake reviews are a significant, unethical business with many moving parts. But before pointing to the fingers of entrepreneurs, writers, marketing companies, freelance agencies or Jeff Bezos, consider the idea that fake reviews are a symptom of a bigger problem.
E-commerce is about exposure. You can call it exposure-trading. A company is simply obliged to fail if it cannot maintain an online presence. Because most online exposure is directly related to algorithms such as the snowball effect, business owners are forced to hit the ground and to avoid making the slightest mistake. And at this time, the ethical decision to avoid false reviews can be a fatal mistake for any business.
With the exposure trading infrastructure we now have is false reviews status quo. Should we accept fraud as the norm? No of course not. But unless online platforms think of the review-based business model, we will continue to see false reviews.