This Is How Many Amazon Reviews May Be Fake, New Research Shows

A new report examined 720 million Amazon reviews left between March and September. Here's what they found.

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Nationwide lockdowns resulted in some stores being closed for months and even now, many businesses are still limiting capacity and store hours, leading many customers to heavily rely on online shopping. Amazon specifically has been booming since we've all been stuck at home, seeing its market value increase $570 billion in 2020 alone. But without being able to touch, feel, and test out what you're buying on Amazon, you've likely found yourself looking at other customers' reviews to figure out if a purchase is worthwhile. Unfortunately, you may not be able to put as much stock in those five-star ratings as you'd like to think. According to recent research, nearly half of the Amazon reviews posted from March through September could be fake. Read on to find out more, and for a real way to save big at Amazon, check out There's a Secret Store on Amazon With Tons of Popular Items on Sale.

Amazon seems to have far more unreliable reviews than Walmart.

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Fakespot Inc., an online monitoring service, assessed 720 million Amazon reviews left from March through September 2020 and found that about 42 percent were unreliable, Bloomberg News reports. By contrast, only 36 percent of reviews from Walmart's online store were categorized similarly during the same time. That's equivalent to the amount the company saw last year. And for more news from that retail giant, find out why Walmart Is Starting to End Its Most Popular Program.

Bogus reviews have been a problem for awhile.

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CNN notes that there are essentially two main kinds of fake reviews, the first are from bots, and the other are promotional, written by people being compensated for their high praise. According to CNN, Khalifah says that the former are "fairly easy for third-party algorithms like Fakespot to find and weed out thanks to their awkward, keyword-studded sentences." As for the latter, Khalifah says they're a little trickier—and while they can be found on any product, they tend to be prevalent on phone accessories, electronics, and small appliances in particular.

But it's usually much more of an issue for Amazon during the holiday season.

amazon holiday packages under tree
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Fake reviews normally aren't so prevalent during the spring and summer. During this same time period last year, Fakespot found that around 36 percent of Amazon reviews were considered unreliable. "We've only seen those kinds of numbers in the Black Friday or Christmas period in 2019," Saoud Khalifah, Fakespot founder and chief executive officer, told Bloomberg News. "In 2020, the surge of fake reviews has proliferated in a rapid manner coinciding with lockdown measures in the USA." And for another scam to avoid, find out The Secret Way Going-Out-of-Business Sales Are Trying to Trick You.

Another monitoring service found similar results among Amazon's reviews.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUL 30, 2017: Open Amazon Prime cardboard box side. Amazon is an American electronic e-commerce company distribution worlwide e-commerce goods
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Fakespot is not alone in its assessment of Amazon reviews. ReviewMeta, an analyzing tool focused solely on Amazon, says it also noticed an increase in the number of fake reviews this summer compared to last year. However, ReviewMeta founder Tommy Noonan attributed this to Amazon's new One Tap Reviews, which allows users to rate products without commenting. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The fake reviews were even found on PPE.

Ostfildern, Germany - May 18, 2014: A woman is horrified by a large stack of parcels by Amazon.com in different sizes waiting in front of the entrance door to her flat on May, 18, 2014 in Ostfildern-Scharnhausen near Stuttgart, Germany. This conceptual photo can serve different purposes: It might demonstrate the domination of Amazon.com in the area of online shopping or the trend in general to shop online for all the different items you need in your personal life.
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According to Khalifah, unreliable reviews spread as the demand for personal protective equipment rose this year. One face mask rated 3.9 stars had a review left by a user who claimed to have assessed nine products that same day and over 1,300 in total. Khalifah said that this was a clear sign of "obviously fake" reviews, as "no one has time to review that many products."

Now, an Amazon spokeswoman is defending the site's reviews.

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An Amazon spokeswoman counteracted Fakespot's and ReviewMeta's claims in a statement to Bloomberg News, saying that the company cannot "concretely determine the authenticity of a review, as they do not have access to Amazon's propriety data such as reviewer, seller and product history." However, she did note that Amazon was aware of "bad actors" attempting to abuse the review system and that the company was investing "significant resources to protect the integrity of [their] reviews." And for a ore helpful Amazon hack, here's The Secret Trick to Get Money From Amazon You Need to Know.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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