How to spot fake product reviews online

by | Aug 20, 2020 | Public Relations

The internet is a great place to find reliable reviews of goods and services. However, there are simultaneously a lot of untrustworthy people on the internet, and most people know that. So, since the internet is rife with both reliable reviews and untrustworthy people, how do you decipher what is and is not a dependable source?

It can be more difficult than you think, but if you know some telltale signs of reliable and unreliable sources, you can make the most informed decision.

Reliable reviews

It is of the utmost importance that the reviews you find online are from real people who have purchased and used the product. You need the opinions of real people, not company bots or employees, to truly gauge the quality of a product. Find reviews from both positive and negative viewpoints. If you only look at the positive reviews of a product, you will have higher expectations than is possible for any product to achieve. If you only look at negative reviews to avoid fake ones, you will discourage yourself from trying the product altogether. Here are a few simple tips to help you find real reviews:

Larger online shopping websites, such as Amazon and eBay, are more likely to have “verified purchase” tags, so it is easiest to verify the legitimacy of reviews on those sites rather than small, less regulated, sites. If the product you are purchasing is only available on smaller websites, you have to be more careful. Analyze the language and gauge whether it seems to come from a person with legitimate experience. If the language is stiff, unnatural, and intentionally vague, those are likely not real reviews, and you should look elsewhere.

Unreliable reviews

Unreliable reviews can be malicious, inconveniencing, and even dangerous. Fake reviews often come from company employees, robots, or other people who have been paid off to make a particular product sound better to potential customers. If you find a product that has several false reviews, the product you are looking at is likely ineffective or unpopular. In that circumstance, you should consider the integrity of the product and the company at large to be compromised and avoid buying its products in the future. If a company is willing to lie to you to get you to buy its products, consider what other unethical practices they could be employing. Here are a few ways to spot unreliable reviews:

Think about what kinds of marketing strategies companies that buy fake reviews might use. They likely commission several reviews at a time, so if, on small, shady-looking websites, you see a sizable chunk of positive reviews come in near each other, be wary. Smaller websites are more likely to host fake reviews because they have less security. If you see what you suspect to be a false review, look around on the website you are on to see if there is a system in place that allows you to report these things. Even if you are not sure, you should still report a suspicious comment just in case.

Being aware of how to spot an unreliable review is another way to stay safe and informed online. Sketchy companies are always out to get you to buy their subpar products, and reviews like these are one of their malicious marketing techniques. Stop and think before making any purchase. Did you look at reviews? Did you use multiple sources to get those reviews? Did those reviews seem at all suspicious? If not, then you may have found a quality product.

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Jeremy Sutter
Jeremy Sutter is a freelance writer and former mobile marketing manager at Adobe.

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