Can You Tell if a Review is Fake? — The Epidemic of Opinion Spam

cornell researchersWe read them — but should we trust them? When sites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Yelp are consistently hit by “deceptive opinion spam,” (read: fake reviews,) should users ignore reviews?

This spring, when researching to find a hotel in New York City, I got lured into the reviews on travel sites. I read hundreds — one after another, as if the next one would hold my answer, would make my decision risk free.

Of course, even as I read them, I knew that a large chunk of what I was reading was most likely fake — officially know as “deceptive opinion spam,” fictitious opinions that have been deliberately written to sound authentic.

With sites like Fiverr and Craigslist easily connecting “reviewers” and companies, the race to get the most positive online reviews continues to explode.

An Algorithm to the Rescue?

Fittingly, a team of researchers from Cornell created a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers



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