Should Consumers Trust Online Reviews?

Bringing together leaders, lawmakers and lawbreakers. Host Luke Fox explores how innovations in business and technology are redefining our trust in security measures.

Product reviews are essential in eCommerce, but how many of them are actually real? Fake reviews are a massive problem in the industry, but one website seeks to deliver transparency and accuracy on Amazon. The Trust Revolution host Luke Fox spoke with Tommy Noonan, founder of ReviewMeta. The website analyzes Amazon reviews and estimates which reviews to trust.

Noonan’s journey to ReviewMeta started in college when his roommate had bad side effects for a fitness supplement. Noonan scoured the web looking for reviews and didn’t find any.
“People need a trusted source of supplement reviews from consumers, rather than relying on what’s on the label. So I created a site for supplement reviews to bring this transparency, and it took off.”

It became a trusted source for millions but also noticed shady reviews. “Brands wanted to pretend to be consumers to write fake reviews. I began to research these suspicious reviews and removing them,” Noonan said.

Noonan soon learned that Amazon reviews were ripe with falsehoods. He then went through 580 reviews on one product as an analysis. Then he began writing a program to automate this, scraping the content from the reviews and analyzing them based on 15 different tests. That became ReviewMeta.

 

“We look for suspicious traits like unverified purchases and others and flag those. The program throws out anything that fails the tests. Then we recalculate the average rating and show that on our site.”

 

In the beginning, Noonan assumed that Amazon would fix the fake review situation. “I moved forward anyway, thinking the site would be obsolete. Instead, five years later, Amazon is getting worse, not better,” he added.

Amazon’s singular focus on revenue means tracing fake reviews isn’t a priority. They are to ReviewMeta, as they want to deliver accurate, honest information to consumers.

 

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