Getting away with fake online reviews is getting trickier. The time is past when you asked friends to sing your praises. Now you can hire a company to do it.
The New York Attorney General has just announced a settlement with 19 companies, accusing them of writing, and hiring freelancers to write, fake reviews.
But the lawsuit isn’t going to shut the review writing industry down.
I, for example, was able to get a glowing review of this story today.
Before I’d written a word.
If ever a story could transform the very fabric of your existence, this is it. Whimsical. Exhilarating. Mind-blowing and mind-altering. Your story has changed my life, so kudos to you, Adriene. Kudos to you.
Thank you, trusty reviewer. Here’s your $30.
“This is incredibly widespread,” says Harvard Business School’s Michael Luca. He guesses somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent of online reviews are fake. “It means that out of every five reviews you see online, one of them was probably written by the business, or by a friend of the business, or by one of these companies that you can hire to leave fake reviews,” Luca says. Or, by a freelancer like the one I hired.
These days, you can outsource this kind of thing and don’t have to do it yourself, says Dina Mayzlin, a professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business.
And, she says, a lot of that outsourcing goes to workers overseas. “If you are a company based in another country, the laws are perhaps not as strict,” she says.