How accurate are algorithms in detecting fake reviews online?

A 2019 survey by a market research firm found that nearly 80% people had read at least one fake review online, and a third of them said they spotted multiple fake reviews

Updated - March 11, 2021 12:09 pm IST

Published - March 11, 2021 12:06 pm IST

Photo for representation purpose

Photo for representation purpose

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UK-based consumer watchdog Which said on Tuesday it exposed a web of paid reviewers who manipulate ratings of nearly 50 Google business listings. These listings ranged from home improvement companies, to stock brokers, and even a dental surgeon.

Fake online reviews continue to storm the internet, and most fraudsters are active on Google and Amazon. These reviewers are increasingly using sophisticated methods to stay ahead of each other by curating clever and invasive algorithms.

According to a 2019 survey by market research firm BrightLocal, nearly 80% people said they read a fake review, and a third of them said they spotted multiple fake reviews.

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While companies can now use algorithms to distinguish fake reviews from real ones, the extent to which websites use the algorithms is unclear and hence some fake reviews may slip through the net, according to a team of researchers at the University of York.

So, the team suggests users to trust their gut instincts when reading online reviews, instead of simply relying on computer algorithms.

For their study, the team asked 380 people about their perception on three hotels, based on reviews (some authentic and some fake). After analysing responses, the researchers concluded that online users often fail to detect fake reviews as they do not proactively look for deception cues.

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The team noted that once users' default reading habit changes, they will be able to trust their gut instinct to spot fake reviews.

Users have the tendency to either approach online content with the assumption that it is all true or all fake, and neither of methods work in the online environment, according to Snehasish Banerjee, lecturer at University of York.

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