Skip to content

OPLIN 4Cast #594: Amazon review system is mired in fakes and spam

Posted in 4cast, and Amazon

I long ago learned to ignore nearly all 5-star reviews of books. They’re generally uncritical, more in line with a thumbs-up/thumbs-down assessment than a more nuanced evaluation that sees strengths, weaknesses, and shades of value. I tend to zero in on the 3-star reviews, which more often will contain commentary about why the reviewer assigned that score.

Last week, BuzzFeedNews published an investigative piece exploring the underground economy of fake reviews on Amazon. It’s a fascinating but depressing read. Amazon Marketplace is a great tool for entrepreneurs to build businesses out of good ideas, but they can easily be targeted by copycats, who pay to boost their products (and pay to smear other competitors). Critics say Amazon could easily do more to fix the problem, but as Amazon earns money from the sales, what incentive do they have?

From the Ohio Web Library: