According to a recent report from Which, a U.K.-based consumer-oriented company that for more than 60 years has tested and reviewed consumer products, thousands of “potentially fake” reviews exist for off-brand technology products on Amazon.
The investigation reveals popular tech products from “unknown brands” may be bolstered with fake reviews, due to the cumulative existence of “tens of thousands” of positive, unverified reviews.
Often a “telltale sign” of fake reviews, the existence of many positive, unverified reviews should cause the consumer to question the legitimacy. A majority of consumers, or 97 percent, lean into reviews as a September survey of more than 2,000 adults from Which reveals. Reviews are a trusted form of user-generated content, often inciting purchases, and crucial when customers are in a gridlock of choice online.
However, when in a single day — hundreds of five-star, unverified reviews proliferate for a single product page, credibility is flagged. Which’s research looked into technology product categories, including headphones, cameras, wearables and smartwatches, among others. It gleaned more than 10,000 reviews from unverified purchasers on just 24 pairs of headphones in a couple of hours.
When WWD asked how Amazon combats fake reviews, an Amazon spokesman provided the following statement: “We use a combination of teams of investigators and automated technology to prevent and detect inauthentic reviews at scale, and to take action against the bad actors behind the abuse.”
Further, Amazon estimates “more than 90 percent of inauthentic reviews are computer-generated,” and thus uses machine-learning technology “to analyze all incoming and existing reviews 24-7 and block or remove inauthentic reviews.”
Which cross-verified its data with ReviewMeta, a free tool that analyzes reviews and strives to help consumers identify inauthentic and biased reviews, which “it believed every five-star unverified review of the top 10 pairs of headphones when sorted by average customer review was fake.”
In response to ReviewMeta’s alleged validation of the report, the Amazon spokesman also offered that ReviewMeta lacks the “data to know, or even say with high confidence, whether a review is fake,” instead opting to use the term “unnatural.”
“We are able to assess review authenticity by looking at data points like reviewer, seller, or product history, which web sites like ReviewMeta do not have access to and therefore cannot concretely determine the authenticity of a review,” the Amazon spokesman reiterated.
While retailers such as Amazon invest significant resources to ensure “high confidence” of product reviews, the responsibility is ultimately on the consumer, to vet reviews closely throughout comparison shopping. Whether they buy or not, it’s not all attributable to a single product review.