Author Topic: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews  (Read 1235 times)  

Online Martitalbott

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Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 04:58:37 PM »
This has been going probably since Amazon started up.

In 2009, Belkin (a huge company) was busted buying fake reviews on Mechanical Turk. That was almost ten years ago.

https://www.cnet.com/news/fake-reviews-prompt-belkin-apology/

Whatever becomes the new Facebook in a few years will probably be exploited as well.


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Offline jb1111

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 07:22:00 PM »
A lot of the comments below the WaPost article blame Facebook, which to me is as stupid as blaming the Postal system for junk mail and similar offers. FB is just the vehicle.

Actually, the Zon is the vehicle. They created this cool review system that is easy to use, but also too easy to exploit. I remember seeing a slew of fake self-help books some time last month, with a similar slew of five star reviews for each one -- with all reviews identically written in broken, fragmented English. The reviews were so similar they could have been written by the same robot, from the same fragmented English boilerplate, with a few words altered here and there to fit the 'book' being reviewed.

They probably have been taken down by now, but Amazon is so vast I'm sure it's a bit difficult to police everything..

Offline JessieCar

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 07:32:41 PM »
Someone approached me  by PM on Twitter asking if I wanted some "honest" reviews.

Cautiously, I said yes, and they replied with their price list for those honest reviews, starting at $100...

You gotta laugh.
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Offline Lefevre

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 10:46:29 PM »
Thanks for posting that..

Seriosly funny how such a derogatory (but accurate) article about Amazon was published by the Washington Post (Owned by Jeff Bezos).

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-washington-post-changed-after-jeff-bezos-acquisition-2016-5

"Reviewers just see it as a way to make extra money, DiResta said. The question is why doesn't Amazon crack down more? These communities are not a secret." (As if this is some new mysterious phenomenon)

Gotta love the First Amendment!
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 03:07:51 AM by Ann in Arlington »
Lefevre

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2018, 04:11:07 AM »
Gotta love the First Amendment!

*Soapbox*

This is not a First Amendment point. The First Amendment ONLY protects you from government restriction on speech or the press. It has ZERO to do with private enterprise. While the GOVERNMENT can't stop a newspaper from publishing an article, the OWNER of a newspaper most certainly has the right to do what they want.

The WaPo often has negative articles about Amazon and a lot of companies. I attribute that not to the First Amendment, but Bezos hand's off approach to allowing the paper to run independently.

Misstating the nature of the First Amendment diminishes its true value and the perpetual "dumbing down" of conversation regarding what the Constitution actually says is a fundamental contributor to the nonsense we find ourselves in today.

*off soapbox*

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Offline jb1111

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2018, 04:29:06 AM »
*Soapbox*

This is not a First Amendment point. The First Amendment ONLY protects you from government restriction on speech or the press. It has ZERO to do with private enterprise. While the GOVERNMENT can't stop a newspaper from publishing an article, the OWNER of a newspaper most certainly has the right to do what they want.

The WaPo often has negative articles about Amazon and a lot of companies. I attribute that not to the First Amendment, but Bezos hand's off approach to allowing the paper to run independently.

Misstating the nature of the First Amendment diminishes its true value and the perpetual "dumbing down" of conversation regarding what the Constitution actually says is a fundamental contributor to the nonsense we find ourselves in today.

*off soapbox*

Although what you say is quite true, I think references to the First Amendment are a reflection of American attitudes towards free speech. We tend to have a more open attitude towards it than they do in some other countries, where people will often tolerate restrictions on free speech not just by government, but by other institutions and entities.

Online dianapersaud

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2018, 05:25:25 AM »
I don't understand why these companies buy fake reviews. The fake ones will convince people to buy AT first. But if the product isn't up to par, then the one stars will come in and people aren't going to buy the product. Why invest all that money in fake reviews instead of making a good product?

A good product sells itself. It really does.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2018, 05:50:46 AM »
I don't understand why these companies buy fake reviews. The fake ones will convince people to buy AT first. But if the product isn't up to par, then the one stars will come in and people aren't going to buy the product. Why invest all that money in fake reviews instead of making a good product?

1. The believe that reviews drive Amazon's algorithms. People believe the number of high reviews is a factor in Amazon's search algorithms, so getting a bunch of reviews fast is needed to trigger Amazon search
2. Unless a product is dangerous, you really WON'T get that many low reviews because the actual number of people who review products is so low compared to the number of people who buy. While over 90% of consumers now say they read reviews, less than 50% actually say they have ever left a review. And under 20% leave reviews regularly.
3. Even if you get a bunch of bad reviews, most consumers won't "drill down." Typically, they will read the first ten reviews that show up on top (which are often not the most recent, but the most "popular").
4. If everything does come crashing down...delist, rename, and relist. It happens all the time with vendors removing a product, rebranding, and relisting with a slightly different name.

We all need to remember that the average internet shopper is NOT as plugged in to all of this as we are. There is a huge swath of the buying public that is still easily fooled by fake reviews.

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Offline Deke

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2018, 06:04:50 AM »

"A good product sells itself. It really does."


I have some great books that haven't sold at all. It takes marketing.

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2018, 06:48:47 AM »
I don't understand why these companies buy fake reviews. The fake ones will convince people to buy AT first. But if the product isn't up to par, then the one stars will come in and people aren't going to buy the product. Why invest all that money in fake reviews instead of making a good product?

A good product sells itself. It really does.

One of the biggest reasons vendors buy reviews is to present the appearance of social proof.

It's not necessarily to compensate for low quality. Many vendors offer solid products. But without a high-star rating and healthy volume of reviews, they realize many customers will go elsewhere. So some of them cut corners, using naughty tactics.

In my experience, a good product may sell itself. But a savvy vendor will want to stack the deck in his favor - i.e. a good product supported with smart marketing.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

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Offline Lefevre

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2018, 07:06:32 AM »
Reviews are becoming like the "arms race" of Amazon. It takes me just as long to download and read a sample of a book as it does to scan the suspect reviews. Plus, I know right away if I want to read it or pass. For products, there are multiple credible sites that compare products. Since reviews are now becoming obsolete, it might make the user experience better if those were eliminated entirely.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 07:50:02 AM by Ann in Arlington »
Lefevre

Offline The Fussy Librarian

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2018, 08:54:40 AM »
I don't know if this is new or a response to the issue cited above:

Additional Guidelines for Customer Reviews
The following guidelines apply to Customer Reviews in addition to the other guidelines given above:

Customers can submit five non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week. Non-Amazon Verified Purchase review counts are calculated each week from Sunday at 12:00am GMT through Saturday 11:59pm GMT. This policy does not apply to Vine reviews or reviews on digital and physical books, music, and video.

When we find unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time, we may restrict the number of non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews on that product.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730
Delivering ebook happiness daily.

Online Martitalbott

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2018, 09:07:44 AM »
I suppose legitimate reviews could possibly be swept up with the bogus ones. I still seem to get a few reviews and then lose them again in a day or two. Also, there is a delay between the time the new reviews show up in Author Central, and are posted on the product page. To be honest, I stopped closely watching the reviews go up and down. It just makes me crazy and I have enough reviews that losing a few isn't critical.
       
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Online Edward M. Grant

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2018, 09:16:25 AM »
3. Even if you get a bunch of bad reviews, most consumers won't "drill down." Typically, they will read the first ten reviews that show up on top (which are often not the most recent, but the most "popular").

Traditionally, the scammers used to bot-report the one-star reviews to get them removed, even though they were the only real reviews for the product.

Offline Avis Black

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2018, 09:42:49 AM »
Amazon's ability to police for fake reviews is actually going downhill.  I'm seeing more fake reviews for products this year than I ever have before, and they've been flooding almost every product category I've been looking at for the last several months.  For what it's worth, about half my online shopping is at Wal-Mart these days.  They often have the same or a similar product for a cheaper price than Amazon does, and it's free two-day shipping for much of what they have.  Prime just can't compete with that.


Offline David VanDyke

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2018, 09:48:00 AM »
I don't understand why these companies buy fake reviews. The fake ones will convince people to buy AT first. But if the product isn't up to par, then the one stars will come in and people aren't going to buy the product. Why invest all that money in fake reviews instead of making a good product?

A good product sells itself. It really does.

All you have to do is look at the testimony of legitimate sellers to see the effects. Bad products steal sales from good products that get swamped in the tide of fake reviews. Good products may succeed in the long run, but in the short run they can take a lot of hits or even be driven out of business by fake imitators with fake reviews, because first-time buyers get lies instead of truth.


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Online Edward M. Grant

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2018, 09:56:42 AM »
Amazon's ability to police for fake reviews is actually going downhill.

It's much easier to create fake reviews than get them taken down. It's really that simple.

All of these online review systems assume that the vast majority of users are honest and helpful. When enough users aren't, the whole system collapses.

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2018, 10:00:48 AM »
Re this bit of the article linked in the OP ...

Quote
DiResta found that many of the Facebook accounts had no friends on the social network. Their only Facebook posts were about cheap products, and their profile pictures included stock photos. A reverse image search on SC Li's profile photo, of a man on a beach, for example, revealed a stock photo called "seaside man" that appeared on various Chinese-language lifestyle websites, an indication of a fake profile.

... I heard a Facebook higher-up interviewed on National Public Radio this morning, and she mentioned in passing that the company's automated systems are now identifying and deleting 1 million fake accounts at the time of creation ... every day. A little indication of the scope of the problem.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk


Online Edward M. Grant

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2018, 10:18:04 AM »
I've noticed that the number of scammers trying to post comments to my blog has dropped at least 90% in the last year or so. They've presumably found that Facebook is far more useful to them than blogs.

Online dgaughran

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2018, 05:15:24 PM »
While Amazon undoubtedly has problems with reviews, this article is based on data from ReviewMeta which is incredibly flawed and completely inaccurate.

We discussed it a couple of years ago here and weren't impressed: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,242075.0.html

I blogged about it today: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/psa-reviewmeta-is-not-accurate/

And if you read the comments on my post, you'll see the other service which this article was largely based on (Fakespot) is equally problematic.

Somewhat hilariously, they both agree that I have fake reviews, but disagree on which books (or even how many I have, which might tell you something here...).
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Offline writerlygal

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Re: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2018, 05:42:05 PM »
Although what you say is quite true, I think references to the First Amendment are a reflection of American attitudes towards free speech. We tend to have a more open attitude towards it than they do in some other countries, where people will often tolerate restrictions on free speech not just by government, but by other institutions and entities.

This is true. The US has historically celebrated the rights of the Free press/media, which is very much tied into the First Amendment inasmuchas the government remaining hands off on regulating what content can be published by the media as opposed to some other countries which have more state sanctioned or endorsed media. There are also very defendant-friendly defamation & libel laws in the US compared to many countries including parts of Europe that have incredibly plaintiff-friendly ones. In the US most people are allowed to say & publish things w/ much less fear of civil liability bc the laws that are influenced by the First Amendment protect the speaker or publisher much moreso than in other countries. I do see these things as closely related issues & based on a generally distinctive American attitude towards free speech due to the importance of the First Amendment which other countries do not have.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 05:46:16 PM by writerlygal »

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