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?
- Inside The Ecosystem That Fuels Amazon’s Fake Review Problem [BuzzFeedNews | Nicole Nguyen] “Being a five-star product is crucial to selling inventory at scale in Amazon’s intensely competitive marketplace — so crucial that merchants are willing to pay thousands of people to review their products positively.”
- How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews [Washington Post | Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg] “ReviewMeta and Fakespot say the ease of detecting potentially fraudulent reviews makes them wonder why Amazon isn’t more stringent.”
- Online reviews: Here’s what’s behind all those 5 star ratings [NBCNews | Stephanie Thurrott] “Sort through the swamp of ratings and reviews with these seven easy tips.”
- Here’s Why Amazon Can’t Fix Review Spam [Lifehacker | Nick Douglas] “The ratings system is broken, and it will keep getting worse. If Amazon keeps rushing to patch holes instead of building something new to replace it, it will lose, and Amazon ratings will stop meaning anything.”
From the Ohio Web Library:
- Christou, Corilee. “Fake Online Reviews. (Cover Story).” Searcher, vol. 20, no. 9, Nov. 2012, pp. 22-31.
- Mendoza, Jessica. “Amazon Sues 1,000 Fake Reviewers. Can Online Retailers Restore Customer Trust?” Christian Science Monitor, 19 Oct. 2015.
- Euijin, Choo, et al. “Detecting Opinion Spammer Groups and Spam Targets through Community Discovery and Sentiment Analysis.” Journal of Computer Security, vol. 25, no. 3, May 2017, pp. 283-318.