When it comes to the trust economy, social media and online consumer reviews play an important role. Surveys have indicated that nearly 90 percent of all consumers are willing to share positive or negative reviews. With almost 2 billion online shoppers a year, that is a big deal. Increasingly, consumer reviews are becoming a key factor in consumer-purchasing decisions. But underlying this reliance on consumer reviews is a trust in the process. So, what happens when fake reviews are used to promote a product or service? Will trust in the system gradually decline?
Perhaps more than anything, fake reviews pose a serious threat to the trust economy. Estimates currently suggest that 1 in every 7 consumer assessments is a fake review. Fortunately, actions are being taken to combat this rising trend. Regulatory agencies and businesses alike are cracking down on those posting fake reviews on various websites. And believe it or not, artificial intelligence might represent the best solution to this problem long term.
AI technology Solutions for Fake Reviews
In terms of consumer reviews, the vast majority remains accurate and legitimate. Still, at the same time, some consumers are ill-willed without a fair and unbiased perspective. And more concerning is the hired applauders who are paid to write positive reviews. When these types of fake reviews are numerous, they negatively impact consumer experiences. Fortunately, some telltale signs often distinguish reviews that are fake from those that are not. And AI technology is currently being used in detecting which ones are truly legitimate.
Fake reviews tend to have several red flags that help AI technology identify them. For one, the language used in a fake review often includes formal product names, model numbers and marketing jargon. Also, reviewer profiles usually fail to reflect a normal pattern of product or service reviews. And many times, fake reviews are posted too frequently in a short amount of time. By assessing these aspects, AI technology can identify false reviews from legitimate ones.
Businesses Using AI Technology for Fake Reviews
It’s no secret that AI technology offers businesses an advantage in terms of consumer review analyses. However, the use of AI technology is more commonly used to examine consumer complaints, preferences and requests. Machine learning is used to capture consumer data from reviews to create consumer profiles. And NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is utilized to identify themes, topics and sentiments expressed in consumer reviews. And that is remarkably different from using AI technology to detect fake reviews. Indeed, businesses are starting to use AI technology for this purpose also.
Two notable companies are employing AI technology for this purpose currently. TDAI Labs recently released its product called “Wise Reviews”—which recalculates rankings of top Ramen restaurants in Tokyo. Using AI technology, this product identified fake reviews and readjusted their rankings. Some restaurants were found to drop over 300 spots as a result. Likewise, Fakespot is a free website that offers consumers a way to determine if a fake review is present. This website uses AI technology to detect fake reviews. And it has proven to be reasonably accurate when used on reviews listed on Amazon, Yahoo and Trip Advisor.
Federal Trade Commission on the Case
False advertising has long been recognized as an act of fraud from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s perspective. So, it’s not surprising that the FTC is also taking action against fake reviews. In fact, recently, the FTC has successfully won a lawsuit against a company that paid for favorable fake reviews on Amazon for its products. The result banned the company from ever making its product again in addition to a $12.8 million fine.
The company, Cure Encapsulation Inc., paid another entity to maintain its product reviews to have a rate that is over 4.3/5. Because their product was weight loss pills, the fake reviews naturally promoted the pill’s ability to help consumers shed some pounds. However, in addition to that claim being inaccurate, the pills also carried a risk for liver damage. Notably, this case has not been the only lawsuit that the FTC has pursued in this area. And it is likely that the FTC will increasingly utilize AI technology to identify fake reviews for future enforcement actions.
Can AI Technology Save the Trust Economy?
Without question, AI technology solutions offer significant promise for enhancing the trustworthiness of consumer reviews. With the use of machine learning and AI algorithms, the capacity to detect fake reviews will increase. That will help improve the legitimacy of product and service reviews so that better consumer decisions can be made. Indeed, combined with FTC oversight, these solutions will be necessary safeguards. But alone, they will not necessarily ensure that consumers will trust a company and its offerings. Ultimately, companies will need to provide oversight as well—as Airbnb recently realized. From fake reviews to the validation of its offerings, each business will need to play an active part in fostering consumer trust. And that will likely include employing AI technology to reduce various threats such as fake reviews.