The Truth About Fake Reviews

Did you know that one in three online reviews may be fake or incentivized? You probably suspected it, but now you know [1-9]. I had a hard time trusting reviews before I learned this. Once I found out, I had to dig deeper. This infographic sums up what what you presumed but may not have known: most of us don’t really trust online sources—we trust friends and family.


It may not surprise you to know that 95% of online consumers suspect fake reviews - particularly when a product has overwhelmingly positive feedback [1]. 

Of the 92% of us that read reviews, we typically rely on multiple reviews to help weed out the false ones  [1]. Relying on multiple reviews may help in some instances. However, there are likely far more fake and incentivized reviews than you suspect, so relying on more reviews may not help.

Creating fake negative reviews for competitors is often more effective than adding positive reviews for a vendor’s own products. Some vendors use this tactic to stop competitors from breaking into a market [2]. All it takes is $1000 to buy a set of 200 bad reviews that will stop a new competitor. While most of us worry about a handful of fake 5-star reviews, we don’t usually think about how many fake or incentivized reviews are really be out there. 

Online marketplaces like Amazon are combating faked or incentivized reviews [3]. ReviewMeta showed that people give better reviews when incentivized [4]. A one third bump in a five-star review system can make a so-so product look amazing. Just take a look at this graphic by ReviewMeta showing just how many Amazon reviews are incentivized.

Over the past two years while incentivized reviews ramped up, consumer confidence in reviews also increased [1, 4]. Because we see more reviews, we think it is safer. Not true. Last Christmas we wasted an estimated $5.5B because of fake reviews [9].

When a product or vendor doesn’t have a review, we typically skip it [1]. It feels safer to skip an unreviewed product than to buy an item with reviews. But this graph shows that we shouldn’t trust online reviews as much as we do.

Another way we combat bad reviews is to just buy three different versions and return the bad ones [6]. This means more hassle for you and me. It also means a rising cost of online purchases that negatively impact the little guys. UPS and return services win, but the rest of us loose.

So, what are we to do? Simple, don’t trust reviews. Trust your friends. Get feedback and recommendations from friends and family. Don’t be shy. Ask your pals what they think.

We created tactac, pronounced “lee-oh-he”, with trust in mind. tactac helps friends ask each other if they “Love It Or Hate It?” The odds are that your friends know a lot about the things you want and need. With tactac, you can search for the things you want, chat with your friends about them and buy only when one you feel confident.