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How to Spot a Fake Review by Eye?

The number one tip, and something of a running joke here at the TruthEngine®, is:

The first sign of fake reviews, is the presence of reviews!

We call it the fair-exchange concept. Consumers who buy a company’s product or service and get what they paid for, tend to stay quiet! An absence of reviews is often the sign of a business with happy customers.

Spotting fake reviews by eye has always been incredibly difficult, and with the advent of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, has got even harder.

Always ask yourself if you would really expect to see the volume of reviews you’re seeing? Be honest. Would you take the time to leave a glowing review for the product you’re about to buy? If the product you’re buying is obscure or mundane (a corner bracket for a wardrobe for example) which would feel more realistic - seeing 50 reviews or 250,000?

We have analysed multiple millions of reviews over the past 4 years and almost without exception, if you’re seeing a lot of reviews for something, chances are they’re going to be fake!

Other tips include:

Examine the Language and Writing Style: Pay particular attention to the language used. Fake reviews often have overly promotional or unnatural language. Be cautious of excessive use of adjectives and superlatives. Beautifully formatted, punctuated and grammatically perfect reviews are often a sign the fake reviewer has used a latest-generation A.I. tool.

Check the Reviewer's Profile: Click on the reviewer's profile to see their review history. If they have only ever reviewed one product (we call this review a Burner Review) or if all their reviews are all glowing five-star ratings with no common thread to them together (we call this a review from a Review Farm), proceed with caution. Other giveaways of review farm reviews are stock photos of beautiful people as the profile pictures with suspiciously generic-sounding account names.

analyse the Timing of Reviews: Look for patterns in review posting. If a product suddenly receives a surge of positive reviews in a short time frame, be sceptical.

Compare Reviewer's Claims with Product Description: Ensure that the reviewer's claims align with the product's features and descriptions. If a review makes extraordinary claims that aren't supported by the product details, it might be fake.

Look for Verified Purchase Labels: On platforms like Amazon, look for reviews labelled as "Verified Purchase." These are somewhat more likely to be genuine, as they (in theory) come from customers who bought the product. Advanced review fakers harness this effect so it’s by no means foolproof.

Avoid Overly Emotional Reviews: Reviews that are excessively emotional or contain an unusual number of exclamation marks are often suspect.

Cross Check Reviews Across Platforms: Verify the product's reviews across multiple platforms. Consistency in reviews can be a good sign of authenticity.

Look for Detailed Reviews: Genuine reviews often provide specific information about the product's performance, features, and any issues experienced. It’s unlikely a customer’s experience with a product of service will be entirely perfect. Very little in life is. Look for reviews which talk of likes and dislikes. These may well be the four-star reviews! Be wary of vague reviews which don’t actually mention any attributes of the product. Review fakers use generic positive review templates to speed up the review creation process.

Embrace The Negative Reviews: Genuine products will have negative reviews. If all reviews are uniformly positive, it’s a red flag.

Consider the Balance of Positive and Negative Reviews: Balanced reviews that mention both pros and cons are more likely to be genuine. If the reviews for a product are overwhelmingly positive (or negative), be on alert.

Watch for Duplicate Content: Some fake reviewers may copy and paste the same review across multiple products, or may paste the same review many times for the same product. Be vigilant for duplicate (or almost duplicate content).

Use ThirdParty Tools: Tools like Fakespot, ReviewMeta, and Review Skeptic can help analyse reviews for authenticity and provide additional insights. Alternatively, look for reviews displaying the TruthMark®. Businesses whose reviews have been checked for authenticity by the TruthEngine® and who display the TruthMark® have been through a rigorous audit process and are trustworthy.

Check for Company Responses: Legitimate businesses often respond to customer feedback, including negative reviews. Check if the company has addressed the concerns raised. However, proceed with caution when you see a business who routinely responds with thanks only to their positive reviews. If you look closely, you’ll see these replies are often left only seconds after the review.

Be Cautious of Lots of Reviews: A point so key, it’s worth making twice. If a product has a high number of reviews, scrutinise them closely, as this is typically the first and best sign that you’re about to witness some pretty meaningful review manipulation.

Report Suspicious Reviews: Most review platforms allow users to report suspicious reviews. Don't hesitate to report what you believe to be fake reviews.

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