How to Spot a Fake Review Online

By Ralph Emerson

February 21st, 2023


The vast majority of people agree that reviews are an invaluable resource when making decisions about what to buy and where. A survey conducted in 2021 has revealed that almost all buyers rely on reviews to make decisions of this type, no matter if it’s about products or services online. But, as you might expect, there are two sides to every story: online stores and other platforms are riddled with fake reviews meant to praise or even denigrate certain products and services. So, today let’s take a look at some tips on how to spot a fake review online.

Look for a balance in the review: if it is too positive, that’s a signal and if it is too negative – that is a signal as well.

Overly positive or negative reviews are dubious
There’s no such thing as the perfect product or service. If you take a look at reviews sites, no matter if they are dealing in washing machines or the perfect place for online gambling in Canada, there are always people with legitimate complaints about shortcomings of the product and service reviewed. This is especially true for gambling sites, by the way, where people complain quite often about the lack of certain game providers that they would prefer.

If you see a review that’s nothing but praise for a product or service, though, you shouldn’t trust it – neither should you trust reviews that deplores pretty much every aspect of a product or a service. Both of these types of reviews are probably paid for, either by the manufacturer/service provider or the competition. In the case of negative reviews, the reason can also be petty revenge or outrage.

As a general rule, it’s always wise to start with the bad reviews, but not the one-star ones, to get honest impressions of the product or service in question.

Look for verification. If the review is positive – there will be or should be other positive reviews.

Look for verified purchases
When it comes to products listed on webshops, it’s always a good idea to look for places that indicate if a review comes from a customer that actually bought the product, or not. It’s easy to have opinions about anything – if there’s something the internet and the talking heads on TV have taught us, it’s this – but this way, you can at least filter out the reviews that were made by people who have actually bought and used the product in question.

Look for vague, repeating statements
An honest review is almost always very specific: there are things the user liked about the product or service, and there are things they didn’t like, and they list them in their review. If the statements are vague and have wording that’s repeated almost word for word in multiple reviews, it could very well be a sign of a fake review.

Look for the reviews of a third-party site

Finally, it’s always a good idea not to rely on a single source, like the testimonials on a seller’s website or the reviews of a product on an online store page. The internet is full of sites where you can read opinions about pretty much everything, from toothbrushes to online casinos. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. If the opinions from more sources coincide, and they check all the boxes above, it’s pretty likely that you can make a purchase based on a pretty honest review.

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