How trustworthy are Google’s crowdsourced reviews? A UK consumer group known as Which? established a fake company and bought fake five-star reviews on Google in a bid to demonstrate the ease of doing so, the BBC reported.
Which? set up a fake business listing tellingly called “five-star reviews” and then enlisted the services of companies selling paid-for Google reviews. Paying them US$150 (~RM617), Which? then fed them reviews written by the group’s own researchers “praising how good the made-up business and its fake owner Catherine are”.
Unsurprisingly, it worked without much fuss. The paid-for reviews were posted the following week.
In the course of its investigation, Which? also found pretty egregious examples of fake reviewing. One of which involve a London stockbroker who received several bad reviews in the middle of last year. But a few months later, he got 30 five-star ones “in quick succession”.
Accordingly, Which? is calling on UK regulators and Google to take action, saying that the current situation is disadvantaging honest businesses and allowing consumers to be deceived. Google, in response, reiterated its stance against fake reviews, noting that it regularly scans for fraud utilising “people and technology”.
“When we find scammers trying to mislead people, we take swift action ranging from content removal to account suspension and even litigation,” the tech giant said, according to the BBC.