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.

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Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.