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A guide on spotting fake reviews and being a savvy online consumer

A guide on spotting fake reviews and being a savvy online consumer
Like us, have you also been scrambling to grab all the best deals on Amazon before it's Great Summer Sale 2024 ends today? Like us, are you also struggling to make sense of what’s worth your moolah and what isn’t amid the veritable ocean of product reviews? Then this article might be for you.

‘Tis the digital age, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a television you’re looking to buy or a tiny vegetable chopper, product reviews are holy. And these reviews apply to other services too — like booking hotels or trying new restaurants. But there’s always a catch, and lurking beneath the surface of seemingly helpful feedback can often be a sinister underbelly of fake reviews.

Deceptive endorsements, crafted to manipulate and mislead, can wreak havoc on a business's reputation or send you down a path of buyer's remorse. In 2023 alone, Tripadvisor removed a staggering 1.3 million fraudulent reviews! Another research conducted by the UK government found that 11-15% of reviews in specific product categories were thought to be fraudulent.

So, how can you, the savvy online consumer, navigate this minefield of opinions? Here's a survival guide:

Trust your spidey sense: Genuine reviews feel real. They offer a balanced perspective, highlighting both the good and the bad. If a review gushes with unbridled praise or spews negativity without explanation, approach with caution.

Read between the lines: Authentic feedback has a personal touch. It reflects the reviewer's unique experience. Beware of generic, repetitive reviews that sound like marketing copy – they might just be cleverly disguised ads.

Digging deeper: Look for details! Genuine reviewers often provide specifics about what they encountered. Did the product have a faulty feature? Was the delivery delayed? Reviews lacking concrete details raise red flags.

Spot the anomalies: Be wary of sudden bursts of overwhelmingly positive or negative reviews. These could be orchestrated attempts to manipulate ratings, not genuine consumer voices.

Review the reviewer: Just like you wouldn't trust a stranger's advice on the street, don't blindly accept every online review. Look for reviewers who establish credibility through details about their experience.

Fight the good fight: We all have a role to play in combating fake reviews. Platforms like Amazon offer guidelines for spotting deception, and consumer groups can provide valuable insights.

The tech takeover: The good news? Technology is on our side. Advancements in AI are creating tools to identify suspicious patterns and flag potential fake reviews. By analysing social media interactions and spotting suspicious language, AI helps maintain the integrity of online review systems.

So next time you shop online, keep an eye out for fake reviews and don’t hesitate to flag them. Remember, by working together, we can keep online reviews a valuable resource for everyone. Happy shopping!

*This article is based on pointers originally provided by experts Nick Hajli and Nick Jennings in The Conversation.*

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