New Amazon Ratings Could Push Back Fake Reviews

A happy man smiles while opening a package in a shipping box on his sofa
Photo by Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Amazon recently added a new way for its customers to rate their purchases.

Called “one-tap ratings,” this new system enables buyers to give a star rating — from one to five stars — for a product without also having to write a review of the product.

Early signs are that the new approach, launched quietly late last year, also might diminish the power of fake product reviews, according to Recode, which covers digital tech for Vox.

The new rating system could, in theory, encourage more legitimate purchasers to rate products, which could help drown out fake reviews.

Who writes phony reviews, anyway? Rick Broida, a senior editor at CNET, says some fake reviews may be written by manufacturers or merchants trying to promote products they make or sell.

At the minimum, Recode says, fake positive reviews can steer buyers to poor-quality merchandise, sowing distrust in Amazon. At worst, a bogus review could lead to purchases of faulty or dangerous products.

Amazon is known for experimenting, Recode adds, speculating that the new system could stay, go or be tweaked. (When we tried to use the one-tap rating feature recently, we were able to access it while using the Amazon app on a smartphone but not while logged in to Amazon’s site on a computer.)

How you can spot fake reviews

You don’t have to wait, though, for Amazon to sort all this out. There are free tools designed to help you determine how authentic reviews for a particular product on Amazon are.

After all, as we write in “7 Common Online Shopping Mistakes That Cost You Money“:

“… would you bite into a sandwich that a random stranger handed you on the street?”

No, of course you would not. Likewise, you shouldn’t follow iffy buying advice from strangers online.

So, take advantage of two free websites that employ technology to scan reviews for some signature traits of fakers and then rate the quality of reviews for particular products:

  • ReviewMeta is dedicated to sniffing out fake Amazon reviews.
  • Fakespot can search reviews at Amazon and certain other retailers’ sites, including Sephora, Walmart and Best Buy.

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