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More Fake Stuff on the Internet by 2014
By: Jessica Cherok
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According to Gartner, Inc., a technology research firm, by 2014 up to an estimated 15% of social media reviews are expected to be fake. That stinks for the consumer, but even worse for businesses who find themselves victims of negative fake reviews.

The problem, in part, is due to the fact that companies, in their quest to continuously increase their customer loyalty and generate sales, are giving out discounts or even paying for positive reviews. The deceit might not remain limited to bribing customers, but could mean companies end up hiring someone to post positive reviews on their behalf as a full-time gig. It’s certainly not outside of the realm of possibility to think a company would budget the $9 to sign up with Angie’s List.

It’s one thing if a company is using social media to fake happy customers for themselves, but what about when they are using it to spread negativity about a competitor?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that can be done. You can file a complaint with the site where the negative review is posted. Most sites have a process for removing reviews and users that violate their TOS, which typically includes that statements must be factual. For example, here’s what Yelp says about removing reviews from their site.

And while larger review sites may be quicker to respond to the issues, you risk being out of luck on smaller, less moderated sites. Or, the negative reviews could be posted on several sites, making it a cumbersome and slow process to get them removed. In those situations, you may be better off hiring a company to help you clean up your online reputation. That is, if you can afford it.

We already knew we needed to take what is said in online reviews with a grain of salt, and apparently we’ll have to upgrade that to several grains of salt in the next few years.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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