It all started with this article, Fake online reviews mean cash-for-comment is rife by Asher Moses, Fairfax Media’s Technology Editor, a reality check about the murky world of online paid comments and ratings. The question posed by Moses’ article:
Online reviews — of apps, books, films, hotels and restaurants — increasingly drive consumer decisions, but with as many as a third of them fake, can people take what they read at face value?
The article points out sections in Fiverr and Freelancer where people around the world are paid by companies to rate or favourably review products, sometimes the reviewer hasn’t even used the product or service. According to the article, review sites including Amazon, UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor, Yelp and others are affected. Bloggers have also been cited in the article with quotes from respected Sydney and Melbourne food blogger, Penny:
Penny said she, like many other bloggers, had been paid by companies to review their products but “everything is my own words”. “The highest amount I got was about $800 or something … it’s [for] a brand of milk that baristas use for coffee so we were supposed to test that at home and posted a review online.
- consumers now have greater choice with review sites like TripAdvisor
- consumers are savvy enough to work out the fake reviews
- bloggers should have a code of ethics so their activity is transparent
- ‘traditional media’ also receive free products and services