On which site is it easiest to post a fake review? “You shouldn’t even try here”

On which site is it easiest to post a fake review? “You shouldn’t even try here”
On which site is it easiest to post a fake review? “You shouldn’t even try here”


Who can post? Everyone with a profile. You don’t have to prove that you have stayed or eaten somewhere.

I even received congratulations on Tripadvisor for my (false) reviews.

Did we manage to post fake reviews? Yes. I used a profile that had never posted reviews before. And yes: a cruise with dinner and live music in Paris or a hotel in Cape Town, I gave both scores without any problem without ever having been there. Then I also gave a now bankrupt restaurant in Flanders five stars. It also hit online. Just like two other positive reviews for a hotel in Canada and another trip in Hong Kong. As a gift for all my diligence, I even received an email from Tripadvisor with congratulations because I… Rookie status achieved my first five reviews ever. Without thanks.

What does Tripadvisor say? Becky Foley, Head of Trust & Security, said: “This particular attempt to submit a fake review is not reflective of the vast majority of fraud patterns that our systems and teams are adept at catching. This attempt was submitted by an individual not affiliated with the companies being reviewed. While reviews sometimes slip through the cracks, our teams continually monitor the site to identify and spot new patterns that we may have missed. We are the market leader in tackling review fraud and invest in robust measures to ensure the integrity of the content on our site. According to our latest data, only 6.4% of reviews were identified as fraudulent in 2023. Four out of five of those reviews were caught before they were published on the site.”



© mye

Who can post? Only those who actually stayed somewhere.

Did we manage to post fake reviews? No. But someone who used to rent via the platform knows a loophole. “You can have some friends book with you. They don’t have to pay anything, they don’t even have to actually stay there, but they have the opportunity to leave a positive review for your stay. It only costs you what you have to pay to Airbnb.”

What does Airbnb say? “We have a clear assessment policy to protect the integrity of the feedback,” says Clément Eulry, Country Manager Belgium and France. “You can only post a review within fourteen days after checking out. In this way we also guarantee that the feedback is relevant and based on actual experiences. A review cannot be edited or deleted by the host. Unless there is a dispute about fake reviews, ” This way you as a user have the guarantee that negative reviews will also remain up. What about the loophole? “There are clear rules that hosts must comply with.



I didn't buy a trampoline there, so I can't write a review about it at bol.com

I didn’t buy a trampoline there, so I can’t write a review about it at bol.com — © ed

Who can post? Some of those who actually bought a certain product at some point. The review can only be about that.

Are we successful in posting fake reviews? No. But the word ‘someday’ is an important one here. By that they really mean ‘someday’. In my own profile I can go back to my first orders ever. And that was halfway through 2013. Then I bought a drinking cup for the children. Just checked to see if I can still give it a five-star review. Yes. He’s there. I was satisfied with it at the time, but you can’t call it relevant anymore.

What does bol.com say? “A customer can write a review about a purchased product at any time, we check this based on the order history,” says spokeswoman Linda van de Veen. “An experience over a longer period of time can be very valuable for other customers, from a sustainability point of view, for example, if it has lasted for so long. With a book or film, it does not matter whether the product was purchased a long time ago. In general, we also see that most people write a review within one to three months after purchase.”



Also at Coolblue you can only post reviews of something you once bought there.

Also at Coolblue you can only post reviews of something you once bought there.

Who can post reviews? Only those who bought a certain product. The review can also only be about that.

Did we manage to post fake reviews? No. But here too you can post a review about everything you ever bought. For example, I can still review the Weber barbecue that I ordered in August 2017 without any problems.

What does Coolblue say? “Because reviews play a major role in the customer selection process, we have an extensive procedure to check the authenticity of reviews,” says Arne Van Verdegem, manager of Coolblue Belgium. “They are checked for completeness, authenticity and compliance with our guidelines. To prevent abuse and/or coarse language, all reviews are always read by an employee first.” Why can you still review old products? “We allow customers to do this whenever they want. Even over time, customers can write relevant reviews, precisely because they have a lot of experience with the product.”



On Booking you can only post a review if you stayed there.

On Booking you can only post a review if you stayed there. — © ed

Who can post reviews? Only when you actually stayed in a certain place

Did we manage to post fake reviews? No, but as a landlord you can use the same trick here as with Airbnb: you rent your hotel room to friends and then let them write a positive review.

What does Booking say? In a written statement, it makes clear that only travelers who have actually stayed in a booked accommodation will be given the opportunity to share a review on the partner’s page. “All reviews are carefully checked by Booking.com moderators to ensure authenticity and compliance.”



Who can post reviews? You must have an account and have spent at least 50 euros in the past 12 months.

Did we manage to post fake reviews? Yes. For this I called in colleague Ewoud, who regularly buys something there and thus spent more than 50 euros. He discovered that in addition to your own purchases, you can also comment on products you never bought. Ewoud has never written a review on Amazon before – so he is not known as a reliable reviewer – but was still able to give lavish stars to wet wipes for babies or to a surgeon’s suit for carnival. The content of such a review is clearly not accurate. He wrote “that he looked real in that suit and someone at a party spontaneously asked for an examination.” “They really thought I was a doctor!” His reviews passed without any problems.

What does Amazon say? “We are investing significant resources to proactively stop fake reviews,” the statement said. “This includes machine learning models that analyze thousands of data points to detect risks, including relationships with other accounts, login activity, review history, and other indications of unusual behavior. We also have expert researchers who use advanced fraud detection tools to analyze fake reviews and prevent them from ever appearing on our store. As a result of continued investment, Amazon proactively blocked more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from our stores worldwide in 2022.” What about the fake reviews that we were able to post? There they say that they allow the option to post a review on a product that they have not purchased “because customers may have purchased that product elsewhere and may still want to share their opinion on Amazon. That could be useful.” They do not place the ‘verified purchase’ label on that review. “A label that we only give when we can check whether the customer actually bought the product.” They emphasize that posting fake reviews on Amazon is “prohibited”.


For our fake reviews, we always gave stars or ratings that were in line with the average. It’s a matter of not influencing the result. For example, we did not give any business with four stars, for example, a bad rating, or vice versa. We only gave a rating that deviated from the average for the bankrupt case, but that did not play a role there. All fake reviews have now been removed.

READ ALSO. A fake company, but with excellent reviews: our experiment shows how little you can believe online

How valuable are real reviews? “We are simply looking for certainty”

What if people did give real and honest reviews? How valuable are they? Bart De Langhe, professor of marketing at KU Leuven and Vlerick, once did research into it.

“A few years ago we extensively compared ratings that experts from Consumer Reports – the American Test Purchase – gave to certain products, with ratings from consumers on Amazon,” says De Langhe. “The correlation between the two was 0.15. Now what does that mean? Plus 1 is the perfect relationship between the two. If experts give five stars to something, customers will give the same five stars. Minus 1 is a completely opposite relationship: a good rating from the experts always equals a worthless review from consumers.”

No expertise

A correlation of 0.15 means that consumers almost always give a rating that has only a very small logical relationship with that of an expert. “This means that a review from an ordinary consumer says nothing or very little about the quality of a product,” says De Langhe. “Even if such a review is prepared honestly and sincerely. And that is not abnormal. Let us take the example of a high chair for the car. Experts can investigate this in labs or with crash tests. An ordinary customer bases his decision on convenience or appearance. The little one clicks in easily, the thing doesn’t weigh too much, …. But does that mean that it is the safest and also ergonomic chair? No. Consumers simply do not have the expertise nor measuring tools to assess the quality of products.”

De Langhe gives other examples. “How do you know whether a smoke detector is good or not? Or a blood pressure monitor? You think it’s a good one because you paid a lot and because it seems to work well. But does it work exactly? You can’t compare it. Just to say that you should also take honest reviews with a grain of salt. And when you think about that, it all makes sense. Then you come to the conclusion that someone’s view on such a product cannot be particularly informative.”

Psyche of the consumer

But even if you realize that, it is still difficult not to use reviews in decision-making behavior, De Langhe realizes. “When you buy something you don’t know, or from a provider you don’t know, you’re looking for certainty. That is the psyche of the consumer. And that’s how you end up with those reviews.” (csn)

The article is in Dutch

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