Study: 15% to 30% of online reviews are fake - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Study: 15% to 30% of online reviews are fake

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ATLANTA (WXIA) -- Deciding where to eat, where to travel or where to shop may seem easier in the digital age since your phone or computer can put thousands of online reviews at your fingertips from sites like Yelp, Google and Amazon.

But can you trust online reviews? Not always, because some businesses are buying them! A Harvard study estimates 15 to 30 percent of reviews you see online are fake.

"We get a lot of complaints about this sort of thing and I believe anecdotally that number is growing simply because this practice is mushrooming," said Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection Director John Sours.

A brief online search turns up of hundreds of people who are willing to make money writing fake reviews. On the job website people can advertise tasks they are willing to perform for $5. Hundreds of Fiverr members have postings offering to review products, services, restaurants and more for $5. I contacted a few of them to ask if they would be willing to write a review for an Atlanta restaurant. Within minutes I had two responses. One was from someone in another state and the other was from a Bangladesh resident who offerred to write a fake review.

Tainted reviews are prompting San Francisco based Yelp to investigate those it suspects are gaming the system. "Yelp's Consumer Alerts program began in 2012 to let consumers know when we've detected attempts to mislead them behind the scenes," said spokeswoman Rachel Walker.

Read more at WXIA
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