Spotting fake user reviews

Booking travel experiences, buying gadgets and researching restaurants are tasks where, when performed online, the user relies heavily on the feedback of those who have experienced the products or services. Drew explains how to spot a fake review.

I have been using the internet since I can remember, and brands have become not only smarter in the ways they post fake reviews about their products and services, but also in the ways they talk down the products of their competitors.

So how do you spot a fake review?
The average fake review will either sing the praises of a product or service with absolutely no downsides or, on the other hand, totally dismiss any good qualities and recommend the user to avoid the product at all costs. Usually, these reviews will stand out from the crowd as they are so far apart from other user’s reviews in terms of the tone used (they normally sound like press releases) and the length of the review (either extremely short or long). Pay attention to the reviews that not only talk about the good features of the product or service, but are also critical of short comings.

Further signs
As soon as a new product is released, the PR team of that product will track down every article that talks about their product on the web and write positive comments, normally multiple times from different usernames. Be cautious of reviews for gadgets and gizmos written directly after the release of a product as the average user requires more than a few weeks to learn and understand a product fully.

If it is listed, pay close attention to the date the account was created by the reviewer, as accounts created months or years before the review have a significantly higher chance of being genuine.

Test the review
Researchers at Cornell University have developed software to spot fake reviews. Their latest test of 400 truthful reviews and 400 deceptive reviews saw the software spot fake reviews 90 per cent of the time. The software has been implemented into a website named and is free to use.

How do you sort the fakes from the reals?

Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).