Coming to terms with fake reviews

Consumers overwhelmingly expect the reviews they peruse on Amazon, Yelp, Google and other review sites to be trustworthy, neutral and objective. But this reasonable expectation is frequently thwarted by the efforts of aggressive marketers who pay third parties to create phony reviews in exchange for compensation or incentivize existing good customers to leave reviews with discounts or free products or services.

These deceptive practices — termed “opinion spam” or “sock puppetry” — are a form of information pollution with multiple victims. Opinion spam blinds the consumer to the truth and poisons the reputation of…

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