These days, everyone’s a critic — especially on the internet. From Amazon to Yelp, consumers expect to trust the opinions and experiences of their peers when determining whether or not to purchase a specific product, experience, or service.
But recent statistics prove that for just a couple of bucks, many people are willing to write fake reviews to boost the image of a company, establishment, or service.
According to keyetv.com, there’s a chance that up to 30% of all online reviews could be phony.
And while it may seem like a sweet and easy deal for many establishment, restaurant owner Steve Simmons does not like or condone the idea.
“You’re a gun for hire,” said Simmons. “Anytime you’re paying for something, you’re corrupting the system to begin with. It takes the credibility out of the legitimate reviews because they’re no longer valid.”
And it’s not like Simmons’ establishments coast off of positive reviews all of the time either. Take Amy’s Ice Creams, which has a number of negative reviews on their Yelp page. Despite the fact that 90% of households enjoy ice cream on a regular basis, not everyone is screaming for Amy’s Ice Creams.
“You know, it hurts your feelings at first,” said Simmons.
But ultimately, his establishment takes the reviews in stride, taking them as constructive criticism.
While Simmons chooses to conduct his business in an ethical means, many are resorting to fake reviews, and there are no shortage of freelancers looking to make a quick buck.
Keye TV’s reporter Bettie Cross investigated the world of fake reviews, searching “write reviews” into a search engine.
She then randomly picked the first few names that showed up, and asked them if they would be willing to post a review she had written. In less than 24 hours, three of her inquiries bore fruit, with the writers agreeing to create a fake review for $5.
This less-than-scrupulous freelance work has recently come under fire. Amazon, for example, is suing over a thousand freelancers who used the website Fiverr to find this kind of work.
And as online shopping grows each year, it’s doubtful that business owners will be able to stamp out all the phony reviews.
“Online shopping is a tens, hundreds of billion dollar a year business. That’s the motivation right there. People are trying to manipulate purchases of other users. If they feel like they can manipulate a purchase, they’re going to post fake reviews to do that,” said David Hoeffler, the manager of authenticity and fraud at Bazaarvoice in Austin, Texas.