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Shopping online this Black Friday? Beware: A third of online reviews are fake

Shopping online this Black Friday? Beware: A third of online reviews are fake
[Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash]

If you’re like tens of millions of other Americans today, you’ll be scouring online Black Friday deals. However, while the prices you find will be legit, many of the reviews for those products may not be. That’s according to Fakespot, which monitors fake reviews online.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Fakespot says that more than a third of reviews found on Amazon’s, Walmart’s, and Sephora’s online shopping sites are fake. Here Fakespot means “fake” as in a person was paid to write a biased review—or a bot was used to write the review. However, the WSJ says that some online shopping giants have taken issue with Fakespot’s report. Amazon told the Journal that 99% of the reviews on its site were authentic and says Fakespot can’t tell this because they don’t have access to Amazon’s proprietary data.

The authenticity and accuracy of online reviews have become something of an issue with major online stores as of late. Earlier this month, Apple pulled all online reviews from its website, though Apple did not give a reason for doing away with reviews.

While it’s almost impossible to determine if an online review is legit, there are some things to keep in mind when reading them:

  • Reviews that say it is from a “verified purchase” are likely to be more accurate as the person leaving the review is confirmed to have actually bought the item.
  • While reviews of third-party, generic products (such as USB thumb drives) can be legit, be on the lookout for a slew of five-star reviews being left on the product over the course of a few days. This could be a sign some of the reviews are fake.
  • Reviews that are overly generic in their praise should be a warning sign. Authentic reviews, be they positive or negative, are usually detailed and specific.

Still worried whether the reviews of a product you are thinking of buying may be fake? Fakespot offers a free online tool that will analyze how likely it is that the reviews of the product are legitimate.

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