Trustpilot aiming to tackle ‘fake reviews’ problem

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Amidst growing concerns over fake online reviews as exposed recently by consumer watchdog Which?, consumer reviews site Trustpilot claims it has removed more than 2.2 million fake or harmful reviews in the last year. 

According to its recently published 2021 Transparency Report, it revealed more than 38.5 million reviews were published on the platform in 2020 – a rate of 100,000-plus per day, or around 75 per minute or more than one per second.

However, AI was used to automatically delete 1,549,683 while 659,547 were manually taken down by the Content Integrity Team.

Trustpilot claims it faces an ongoing battle to ensure that the minority of bad actors who set out to mislead consumers are stopped from ruining people’s next buying decision.

Which? exposes ‘fake reviews industry’ on Amazon Marketplace

Says Peter Mühlmann, founder and CEO, Trustpilot:

“The popularity of online reviews has given consumers the confidence to buy more online from more businesses of all shapes and sizes.

“Fake reviews and misinformation are the enemy, and we continue to do all we can to prevent consumers from being misled.

“Trust is in our name, and trust is at the heart of all that we do as a business. If we are to be successful, we have to be more open and transparent in the way that we work.”s.

At the end of 2020, there were 529,219 businesses domains on Trustpilot, with 153,089 reviewed for the first-time last year. Almost 20 million people wrote their first review on the site in 2020, with overall reviews up by 25 per cent on the previous year as lockdown forced a greater shift on to online purchasing.

However, with the increase in users, and popularity in reviews in general, also comes new challenges from fraudsters – with Trustpilot developing high-tech fraud detection software to identify and remove fraudulent reviews.

The technology analyses multiple data points, such as IP addresses, user identifiers, device characteristics, location data and timestamps, to determine if it exhibits patterns of suspicious behaviour.

Fake and harmful reviews include businesses reviewing themselves, paid reviews designed to manipulate a rating, a review designed to deliberately undermine a competitor, advertising or promotions disguised as reviews, a review which has harmful or illegal content and reviews not based on genuine experience. Interestingly, fraudulent users were almost twice as likely to try and post five-star reviews as a one-star review.

The move follows the news of Philips James Waymouth who was recently forced to pay £25,000 in libel damages to London law firm Summerfield Browne after leaving a bad review of their service on Trustpilot. The legal firm took objection, claiming the number of business enquiries it had received since the publication of the review had fallen and took legal action against Waymouth, stating that his review was untrue and defamatory. 

Read Trustpilot’s Transparency Report here: https://www.trustpilot.com/trust/transparency

Chris Price
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