Mark Higginson

How people's attention flows on the web


30 September 2013

We show that the problem is widespread - nearly one out of five reviews marked as fake, by Yelp’s algorithm.

Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud

I enjoy reading research papers as they present findings alongside the evidence to support them, which makes a welcome change from posts on marketing blogs.

The fact that many submitted reviews are fake is no surprise; obviously there is ambiguity in regard to what is considered ‘fake’, but for the purposes of the paper Yelp’s filtered reviews are looked at and assessed to also identify “the circumstances under which fraud is prevalent”.

If we consider the links between web pages as votes, many members of both the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Content Marketing industries could be considered as suppliers of fake ‘reviews’, that is to say material contributing to a more positive perspective of a page by affecting its position on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). To my mind the intent behind the action is an important consideration as to its credibility.

This quote highlights how, whenever commerical interests are involved, there is a risk of people trying to affect perception by using underhand tactics. The purported benefits of social media in this case, e.g. the aggregated opinions of a large group of people who have used a product or service, can be undermined, leading to a loss of trust.

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