Beware of fake reviews on premium day

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Amazon’s annual Prime Day sales event is underway with the most discounted items in its history. As usual, customers can purchase discounted items, Amazon branded products, or any other tchotchke they want.

One thing to keep in mind when shopping on Prime Day: fake product reviews on Amazon and on social media.

Fake reviews often appear when consumers receive payment or discounts from businesses looking for positive reviews. They are sometimes easy to spot – just look for overly positive or promotional language – but are often devious and misleading.

Online reviews are an integral part of the shopping experience. A review is often the deciding factor in whether a customer is splurging on an item. In addition to deceiving customers, bogus reviews online can also hurt competitive offerings from credible small businesses and undermine brand confidence.

Reviews keep coming

Amazon has struggled to crack down on fake reviews for years, though it has ramped up operations to detect and prevent them over time. In 2020, Amazon identified more than 200 million fake reviews on its site before they were published.

But they are growing elsewhere. In a blog post last week, Amazon said it has noticed a tendency for customers to post fake reviews on social media sites. On average, social media platforms take five days to remove them after Amazon identifies them.

What to watch out for

There is no foolproof way to tell honest reviews from dishonest reviews, but taking every review with a grain of salt is a place to start. Take a close look at the words used in each review: Does the language seem too flowery, too jargon, too similar to the other reviews? Looking at the user who posted the review can also help. Beware of generic sounding names or accounts without a profile picture.

There are tech solutions too: Web browser extensions like Fakespot and ReviewMeta both use algorithms to analyze product reviews and determine which are the most genuine.

Equally important is not to rely on reviews as the sole deciding factor in purchasing a product. Back up your searches with information from other non-branded websites. If you are thinking of buying this cheap pasta maker, check out credible consumer reports and pasta making blogs.

Editor’s Note: Amazon is one of the financial backers of NPR.

Savannah Sicurella is an intern at the NPR Business Desk.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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