Websites and online product reviews are increasingly pretending to include trustworthy judgments about products or services but are often purely for-hire recommendations or publicity material, experts say.
Underhanded review sites are one of the very first thing consumers searching for reviews on products and services including home inspections would find, but they come and go so fast, it’s difficult for regulators to stop them.
“The significant problem is that these sites are appearing every day in individuals’ shopping analysis throughout the holidays when they are looking for gifts and trying to do their homework like everyone tells them to do,”
We encourage users who doubt review sites that suggest they’ve “reviewed a number of a wide range of goods and then declare to find a single that’s valuable.” She says the most glowing and most negative reviews should be viewed warily: The glowing ones could be fake and awful might be placed by opponents.
Hancock says there are fewer deceptive reviews on websites that note whether users have actually purchased the products they posted reviews about.
A scientific study done this year about online reviews estimates up to 25 % of all online product reviews are “deceptive opinion spam,” or the work of people paid to tout or disparage products.
The Federal Trade Commission has delivered two deceptive-advertising cases about reviews in the last 14 months:
- Nashville-based Legacy Learning Systems in March resolved FTC charges that it deceptively publicized its DVDs of guitar lessons through affiliate online marketers who falsely posed as people or individual reviewers.
- A public relations firm, Reverb, hired by video game developers settled FTC charges in August 2010 that it didn’t disclose it had employees pose as ordinary consumers posting game reviews at the iTunes Store.