- You can spot Amazon fake reviews by learning common red flags.
- There are several third-party websites with algorithms that filter out fake reviews.
- Fake Amazon reviews can hurt both consumers and Amazon retailers.
- Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.
There are millions of products available for sale on Amazon. Deciding which of these products to buy can be tricky, especially if it’s a product, brand, or seller you’re unfamiliar with. Reviews can help with making purchase decisions, but not if they aren’t real.
When shopping on Amazon, it’s important to look beyond the 1- to 5-star rating at the top of the listing. Here’s what you should know about fake reviews, why they exist, and why you should care.
Understanding fake Amazon reviews
Fake reviews on Amazon are more common than you might think — there’s entire websites dedicated to weeding out these intentionally deceptive reviews.
Lisa Sabatini, an editor on the Reviews team at Insider, defines fake reviews as inauthentic buyer assessments of a product.
“Often they are particularly glowing or negative,” Sabatini said. “These reviews may be written by Amazon users on behalf of a brand or third-party seller, even though the reviewers themselves have not purchased or used the product.”
Fake reviews are also written by people who have actually bought or tried the product. “In some cases, the seller will contact the buyer and ask them to write a particularly glowing assessment,” Sabatini said. “In return, these users may receive refunds and free products.”
There are several reasons why fake reviews exist. Sabatini noted that they’re sometimes used by brands and third-party sellers to mislead people into purchasing their products.
“These reviews tend to exaggerate a product’s quality and usefulness,” Sabatini said. “On the other hand, negative fake reviews are a tool used by sellers and brands to discourage people from buying a competitor’s product.”
Whether you’re a consumer or an Amazon retailer, there are several reasons why you should care about fake reviews. Sabatini pointed out that fake reviews can cause lackluster products with manipulated ratings to appear at the top of search results.
Since Amazon’s search algorithm won’t always weed out fake reviews, a product that has more 4- and 5-star reviews may appear higher in the search results than a product with just a handful of positive reviews, even if the product with more reviews has mostly fake ones.
This hurts consumers who may not be able to identify fake reviews and possibly end up purchasing a low-quality product. This can also hurt Amazon retailers who, despite selling a higher quality product, may have trouble standing out among competitors with falsely positive reviews. Retailers can also be negatively affected if their competitors post fake negative reviews on their products.
How to spot Amazon fake reviews
While spotting fake reviews isn’t an exact science, there are some red flags to look out for, according to Sabatini:
- Look at the percentage of 1- to 5-star reviews. If 70% of the reviews are 4 or 5 stars and 30% are 1-star reviews, that is unusual.
- Check if the reviews are vague. If the reviews are extremely positive or negative but don’t specifically mention what makes them good or bad (like “Love it!” “Great,” or “Horrible!”), the review may be fake.
- If the review mentions a competing product, that’s a red flag. For example, if a user says not to spend your money on a product but to check out another brand, that’s definitely suspicious.
- Take into account the popularity of the product. If a fairly unknown or less popular product has thousands of reviews, it’s worth giving those reviews a closer look.
Third-party sites that spot Amazon fake reviews
Scanning reviews can be a tedious, time-consuming process.
Thankfully, there are several third-party sites (not affiliated with Amazon) that are specifically designed to evaluate reviews and determine if they might be fake. Sabatini notes that these apps use algorithms to analyze both the product’s reviews and the reviewers themselves.
ReviewMeta is a metrics tool that analyzes user reviews on Amazon. To use it, simply paste an Amazon product link into the search box and click “Go.”
Once the deep data analysis is completed, ReviewMeta provides an adjusted rating (filtering out reviews that their algorithm deems potentially unnatural) as well as a report card highlighting any issues it finds with the product reviews. This can include deleted reviews, unverified purchases, and phrase repetition. ReviewMeta notes that the grade (Pass, Fail, or Warn) does not necessarily prove whether or not fake reviews exist.
Fakespot is a browser extension that helps to spot fake reviews on a variety of websites, including Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. It can also alert you to potentially shady sellers and scam websites. It works on Chrome, Firefox, iOS, and Android. When shopping online, Fakespot gives you the option to filter products by how legitimate the reviews seem or filter out listings with a lot of fake reviews.
The Review Index
The Review Index is another Amazon reviews analysis tool. It works similarly to ReviewMeta in that you simply paste the product link into the search bar to get a detailed analysis based on their algorithm. It gives a score out of 10 and highlights the review language for specific aspects of a product (reliability, battery life, etc.).