Sellers on all sorts of Internet selling sites allege that fake negative reviews hurt sales, while buyers complain that fake positive reviews misrepresent a product or service, each side of the debate with little data to back up either claim—until now. A new study has delved into the horrible world of deceptive online reviewers, finding that sometimes its as bad out there as retailers and consumers imagined. But that most of the time, a negative comment is pretty fair. That's right, as much as we hear the sensationalist stories about how Internet reviewers ruin businesses, on the whole they're not so bad. On the whole, the study clears up a lot of myths about the whole ecosystem.
Myth 1: Fake Reviews Come from Rogue Agents or the Competition
False. There's a perception out there that extreme fake reviews either come from the competition or from customers paid in freebies and deals to say nice things about a company. In the sample, most of the people who wrote deceptive reviews had purchased something from the site—just not the actual product they were reviewing. In other words, they were actual customers. "Instead the low rating effect appears to be due to actual customers engaging in this behavior for their own intrinsic interests," reads the study. "In this respect, the findings represent evidence that the manipulation of product reviews is not limited to strategic behavior by competing firms. Instead, the phenomenon may be far more prevalent than previously thought."