Online fraudulent reviews, how to prevent them, and the fallout

Found a couple of interesting articles regarding online reviews, which we all know is one of the most important ways companies attract business. These articles discuss the practice of companies posting their own fraudulent reviews online to increase sales. Additionally these articles discuss what steps the sites where these reviews are posted (e.g. Yelp, Reddit) are trying to take to remove and prevent these fake reviews.
The first article from Silicon Alley Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-positive-reddit-comments-2013-6) discusses how Microsoft allegedly hired people to post positive commentary on the social news website Reddit about the new Xbox. While Microsoft denies these allegation, the idea of reputation management (where media marketers “pose as happy customers” on social media sites) is something that site like Reddit try very hard to combat. Reddit is a website where people can share their personal opinions and influence the conversation around different topics that they believe are cool or interesting. If corporations are able to successfully pay people to like or promote their product, while posing as Reddit users, this calls into question the useful of the site and just makes it an advertising platform.
The second article (http://adage.com/article/digital/fake-reviews-rise-yelp-crack-fraudsters/237486/ ) talks about how Yelp and other sites that post online reviews and how they are working very hard to find, remove, prevent, and shame companies that post fraudulent or false reviews. While this is a noble effort these sites have undertaken they will be the first to admit that it is not fool-proof and legitimate reviews have been erroneously removed. In fact lawsuits have been filed against as some of these sites as companies contend that real positive reviews where erroneously removed.
Questions:
1) Are anonymous online reviews becoming the new spam and will people only trust WOM?
2) Does the threat of removing a good posting (and potential lawsuits) outweigh the benefits of removing fake reviews?
3) Is the internet, who some consider to be a true democracy, vulnerable to becoming place where corporations and savvy markets can control the content?

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One thought on “Online fraudulent reviews, how to prevent them, and the fallout

  1. I see this as an opportunity for a company like Klout to have their user’s Klout score posted along with whatever message they post. If you see a bunch of negative messages from individuals with a 0 Klout score, you could assume that those are spam. Whereas a review from someone with a strong Klout score may leave more of an impression with those reading it.

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