Stories

Fake 5-star reviews proliferate online

Amazon packages on a conveyor belt.
Packages are scanned to be loaded onto delivery trucks at the Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J. Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

Fakespot Inc., which finds fraudulent reviews, found more than a third of online reviews on major sites are generated by robots or people paid to write them, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: "The likelihood that consumers who read reviews will buy a product can triple based on the number of reviews it has," based on 2016 research cited by the N.Y. Times' Sapna Maheshwari.

Why so many reviews are shady: Services allow sellers to connect with consumers who are willing to buy and rate products online for payment, The Times reports.

  • "Positive ratings not only drive sales but can increase the odds that products appear high in search results."

A tipoff that many reviews are phony: They're so overwhelmingly positive.