By TRUTHFINDER.COM TECH TEAM
Jokes around the idea of "it must be true — I read it on the internet" have been around for, well, as long as the internet has existed. The old cliché "don’t believe everything you read" goes back even further.
Yet over the past couple of years, stories based on half-truths and outright lies have brought the reliability of internet-sourced information into sharp focus.
According to one 2017 study from Oxford University, Twitter users during the 2016 US presidential election received more misinformation, polarizing, and conspiratorial content than professionally produced news.
In fact, the phenomenon has reached beyond the news and into our everyday lives with the widespread use of questionable reviews on Amazon and other shopping sites.
Here’s why that matters — and what you can do about your own company’s reputation.
The Problem With Reviews That Game The System
Whether a business puts its staff to work writing negative reviews to tarnish the reputation of their competitors or pays freelance review writers to puff up their profiles with phony feedback, a handful of reviews designed to mislead potential customers can make all the difference for profit margins.
It turns out that people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. This means the danger of dishonest reviews is twofold.
When you read a handful of reviews and can't discern fact from fiction, your opinion of what you're buying is severely compromised.
What’s more, all of those questionable four-and five-star ratings will soon add up. It only takes a fraction of a percentage to turn a product into a top-rated seller.
Additionally, the process of gaming the review system stacks the odds of success in favor of those who are ruthless enough — and have enough money behind them — to pay for them. That privilege suppresses innovation and diversity in the marketplace, which impacts design, manufacturing, and customer service in the long run.
After all, when it takes just three negative reviews to convince 63% of consumers not to opt for a particular purchase, small, honest businesses have a lot to lose.
It’s no wonder so many of us are left wondering who to believe. Sometimes it may feel like the only thing you can be sure about is that you are being manipulated.
In the short term, you end up spending time and money dealing with a product that you’ve bought based on a bunch of reviews that may be stuffed with half-truths. It might mean that you end up with a product that is not the quality you expected — but good luck getting a swift refund from a seller who didn’t think twice about paying for their reviews.
Other merchants might have a history of failing to deliver anything at all. Maybe you'll end up continually chasing them down for a product you’ve purchased, but which doesn’t actually exist. If the merchant has buried the tell-all stories in a mountain of fake positive reviews, how are you to know?
How To Tell You're Being Swindled
Unfortunately, review writers are able to keep one step ahead of the algorithms that merchants set up to weed them out. As a bona fide human being, you've got a better chance of spotting a phony.
When you come across a review that you catches your interest, ask yourself:
- Is it written in ALL CAPS?
- Is the reviewer from a different country than the product that's being reviewed?
- Does the reviewer only ever write about the same manufacturer?
- Does the reviewer's username end with a string of numbers?
- Are all their star ratings top or bottom score, with nothing in between?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you need to treat the review with the utmost suspicion.
You’ll be pleased to hear that TruthFinder only publishes reviews from real, verified customers. That means you can trust what you read and make a decision for yourself, without being swayed by bought testimony.
As a consumer, you need to know that you're getting the best possible value for your hard-earned dollar — and you need to know that you're dealing with businesses that have properly earned your trust and respect.