Fake Restaurant Reviews are Epidemic!

Nothing that’s good, on its face, seems to escape exploitation and sullying by the crooks and scammers. Witness the disclosure this week that many restaurant reviews, ‘likes’ and other endorsements are totally fake, for sale by fraudsters preying on restauranteurs and patrons, alike!

Cheesed OFF! food truck - © 2014 CBC MarketplaceCBC’s Marketplace mocked up this fake Food Truck in Toronto to test
its theory that review and endorsement faking online is epidemic.

The stunt produced alarming results: A vast number of fake reviews and endorsements appeared within a day on a host of websites, even on highly respected ones such as UrbanSpoon!

Marketplace broadcast a detailed report last night in prime time. The show’s assertion that faking reviews, ‘likes’ and other online endorsements has become a major and growing industry was proven in spades.

And… Although we concern ourselves chiefly with cooking and the foodservice industry here at Maggie J’s FFB, I think it’s important to note that the cancer of illicit reviews has spread to all corners of the Web, effecting all products and all blogs that deal in reviews.

Research group Gartner found recently that up to 15 per cent of online reviews are fake. A survey by the prestigious Harvard Business School found that one additional star on a Yelp! restaurant review translated to an increase of up to nine per cent ni revenues for independent (non-chain) restaurants.

I’m told it is almost impossible to tell a fake review from a real one. However, Marketplace found that Jeff Hancock, a professor and researcher at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, has come up with some guidelines to help review readers tell when people are lying online…

~ Maggie J.