The Problem With Internet Reviews
We are living in the era of opinions. Thanks to the internet, everyone's voice can be heard - at least for a few seconds between two hyped out infotainment stories and tired top ten lists littered with annoying pictures. Not to mention the constant cacophony of social media: but that's democracy, right? Unfortunately (or maybe luckily), nobody thinks "It's on the internet so it must be true!" any more.
Perhaps nothing has made us more cynical than the persistent barrage of fake internet reviews, be it in the form of forum posts, blog comments, or obviously slanted review sites. Even social media "influencers" are now being looked up with suspicion, after learning about a tremendous amount of money celebrities are paid by the companies just for casually mentioning their products.
You may think that the problem with internet reviews is that you have no idea about the qualifications of the reviewer, or his knowledge about the product he is reviewing, and you would be right. After all, there are some people who just cannot be pleased, no matter what you do! And the person leaving an anonymous review may, or may not be the expert in the subject he is reviewing.
You may think that the problem with internet reviews is that only negative reviews are ever written, because a customer who is content with a service or product he has purchased is less likely to express his satisfaction publicly - and you would be right. Internet reviews are statistically slanted to present more negative than positive opinions.
Then again, can you ever trust a positive review on the internet? The person leaving a positive review may indeed be a happy customer... or someone paid for singing his praises!
It's no secret that businesses are paying for reviews: either positive reviews for their business, or negative reviews for their competitors. There are sites where, for just a few bucks, one can buy fake reviews. Fake reviews are - quite literally - everywhere on the internet! At the moment, the algorithms are helpless in ferreting out fake reviews. Can you spot them?
The telltale sign of a fake review is using superlatives in excess, while at the same time not being too descriptive of the service, product or place it is attempting to review - simply because the reviewer does not have an authentic experience he can write about. He will use a lot of generalities, going off on a tangent, doing all he can to appear more credible than he really is. When it comes to trusting online reviews, the old adage of being too good to be true applies.