Amazon is America’s favorite one-stop-shop for everything from office supplies to multivitamins. But with so many fraudulent products circulating online—especially in the dietary supplement world—we tend to put our trust in customer reviews to avoid purchasing any snake oils when looking for our next probiotic or diet pill. Unfortunately, a recent article published by the Washington Post reveals that many of these reviews, one of Amazon’s touted strengths, are falsified—either written by people who haven’t used the products in question or by shoppers who have been reimbursed via Amazon discounts and money deposited directly into their PayPal accounts.
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According to the Post, one of the most affected categories for illegitimate reviews is diet pills and supplements, a group already plagued with many fraudulent products. Based on data gathered from the website ReviewMeta, which specializes in analyzing the reliability of customer reviews on websites, over half of the comments for the top 10 items on a weight-loss pills search were deemed questionable. “These days it is very hard to sell anything on Amazon if you play fairly,” said Tommy Noonan, who manages ReviewMeta. “If you want your product to be competitive, you have to somehow manufacture reviews.”
Luckily, there’s ways to protect yourself against misleading product reviews. A quick visit to watchdog sites like ReviewMeta or Fakespot should help identify some of the incentivized comments hidden among the other reviews. Additionally, be on the lookout for any repeated phrases within reviews that look copied and pasted, or a sudden boost in the number of reviews written at one time.
While Amazon should certainly be doing more to stop these fake posts, it’s ultimately up to individual shoppers to be a smart and savvy. So, the next time you’re browsing Amazon, do your homework before clicking “add to cart!”
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