What is the one thing that you do before booking a hotel, ordering food or even going out for a movie? Check your bank balance!
But we are also greeted by the stars that adorn any online platform forming a virtual galaxy. Online review is a critical evaluation that derives its authenticity from being ‘of’ the public.
According to a study, more than 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and many of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review while 86% of people will only buy something if it has a 4+ star rating.
This practice doesn’t come without its demons. To my disappointment and some distress, I learned about “astroturfing.” It is defined as “creating the impression of public support by paying people in the public to pretend to be supportive.” It is the opposite of “grassroots” and is a bottom-up approach to manufacturing consent. With the increasing knowledge about manipulation of the algorithm of online sites, and people are savvier at masking their identities. Many companies hire people from India or the Philippines to write fake reviews where reviewers reportedly create fake identities for each of their persona.
In the past, Yelp admitted to having more than quarter of submitted reviews as fake in 2013. In 2015, Amazon sued people for allegedly writing fake reviews which in some cases boosted the sale of products to astronomical heights.
We are bombarded with so much information on a daily basis which makes us more susceptible to fall prey to our own biases. In a dystopia not far from ‘Black Mirror’, screens have started to rule our lives. Eliminating such elements might take time but we need to become more aware as consumers. Raising public awareness of the problem, we can only hope to develop tools to detect astroturfers so that social media users can make informed choices and resist online social manipulation and propaganda.
Stop relying solely on these online reviews. Next time some @MrsNickJonas writes that a Salman Khan movie was the next best thing after Inception, you need to stop. Read between the lines and take these online reviews with a grain of salt.
(P.S. Hoping for a good review on my review about reviews)
Blog by: Navya Singhal