How To Identify fake customer reviews.

Not all the reviews you read on websites such as Amazon, TripAdvisor and Google Play can be taken at face value. It’s becoming increasingly common for companies and developers to buy fake reviews and ratings on these sites, in the same way, that you can get thousands of Twitter followers overnight by paying for them. The fraudulent reviewers are usually real people (Amazon won’t let you post a review unless you’ve bought at least one item from the store) who have signed up with services such as LaunchZon ( that bulk-sell bogus opinions. Alternatively, they advertise their writing skills through task marketplaces such as Fiverr (, which last year was at the center of Amazon’s clampdown on fake reviews that involved the store suing 1,114 alleged perpetrators. Current listings on Fiverr include ‘I will post a positive review anywhere’ and ‘I will write perfect reviews for your Android apps’ – clearly the community hasn’t learned its lesson.

You can identify many of these paid-for reviews by using common sense – click the reviewer’s name to see all the opinions they’ve posted; if the text is very similar, they’re almost definitely a shill. Additionally, fake reviews are often vague, brief or over-enthusiastic, for example: “Best book/tablet/waffle maker I’ve ever bought, worth every penny!”.

For more scientific analysis, paste the URL of a product’s Amazon page into Fakespot ( and click ‘Analyse It!’. Fakespot uses its special algorithms to scan the reviews of the item for signs of fraudulence, looking at the language used, the reviewer’s profile, correlation with other reviewers’ data, the sentiments expressed and “prevailing patterns used by proven fake reviewers”. Once finished, it gives an overall grade and summary to indicate whether reviews of the item are likely to be genuine or false. We were pleased (but not surprised!) that Fakespot gave our 2015 Back Issues Disc an ‘A’ grade and concluded that “you can trust reviews of this product”; whereas a pair of Techrise earphones received an ‘F’ and a warning for suspicious all-five-star reviews. See Fakespot’s Worst Fake Reviews section for other examples.

Fakespot isn’t always right, but the more reviews it analyses, the more accurate it becomes – it’s already checked more than 390,000. There are also Fakespot extensions for Chrome (click here) and Firefox, so you can scan review pages on the fly.

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