Study: Fake Social Media Reviews Could Cost You

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Better read this before you consult your phone about your next meal out.

We’ve told you about fake product reviews on sites like Amazon and taught you how to avoid them. But now you’ve got to watch out for them not just on your computer but on your phone.

Mashable reports a rise in fake reviews of restaurants posted via social media:

For most of us, an exceptional number of top-notch online reviews determines which movie, hotel room, car or gadget we will choose over the competition. It’s the same for foodies deciding where to host a celebratory dinner or just looking for a great morning cup of joe.

What’s now a huge problem with falsified online restaurant reviews is going to explode over time. By 2014, 10% to 15% of social media reviews will be fake and paid for by companies, according to a new study by tech research company Gartner. Increased customer reliance on amateur reviews exacerbates unmerited ratings.

Increasingly, businesses buy forged and unmerited five-star reviews to stay on customers’ radars.

But there may be a silver lining, Gartner reports:

Organizations who opt to pay for phoney reviews can, and have, faced both public condemnation as well as monetary fines. In 2009, the FTC determined that paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such.

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