Cracking The Code On Amazon Fake Reviews Part 2

Astroturf and Spam Infographic.jpg

Cracking The code on Amazon Fake Reviews part 2

As mentioned in our previous  article in this series we will now look into the gender and age demographics of the typical Vine Voice/ Amazon reviewer


Seventy percent of the top reviewers are male,their median age is 50-60 and more than half hold a graduate degree.

About 14 percent of those reviewers are professional writers

Now, For Amazon’s unpaid customer reviewers,the only tangible benefit of their “job” and the study found that for top reviewers reviewing is practically a second career or a “crossover occupation” – is any free books and products they receive which brings me to the conclusion that with the current state of the economy being what it is and the devaluation of many pensions this would make a good way to be able to acquire “free” products on a fixed and tight income

The way to keep these flowing is to churn out glowing reviews

Amazon explicitly tells reviewers to “please clearly and conspicuously disclose that you/they receive the product free of charge how ever our study has discovered that reviewers do not always adhere to Amazon’s directives and in fact some manufacturers and re-sellers will often send out an empty box for a particular product and pay the reviewers in cash


A professional elite Amazon reviewer who asked to remain anonymous told us that he has received everything from earbuds to a $500 scanner to a huge cache of blue tube speakers worth thousands of dollars.


One alarming reality about Amazon’s review system is that organized groups of reviewers can use the Amazon review system as a tool for censorship and or as a full on weapon


as this New York Times article shows:


Clearly it wouldn’t be out of the realm of reality that certain dubious companies,publishers and manufacturers would resort to such tactics to unfairly buck the system in their favor or much worse say you have a political group that would like to censor an author by killing their book due to a difference of political views!


In our previous article:

We posted the following Arctic Silver(AS) search engine  analysis of suspected Astroturfing phrases, these were bias tested against three competitors and found to be statistically overwhelmingly  unique to AS5. These unique phrases were then found in the AS review section of AS products on Amazon and not in any of the competitor reviews and so only are associated with AS products. As one would note the reviews are from verified purchasers which as advertised by the paid review sites they can get around this  as noted in the Amazon Lawsuit against and others is that the seller can ship empty boxes so the reviews are verified purchases.

Amazon_Astroturfing_example 3

Upon a casual observation was the excess number of Amazon reviews favoring AS so we generated the following Chart of  AS Amazon reviews vs MX 4  a competitor of more or less equal performance and lower cost product. As previously observed AS

Arctic_Silver_vs_MX4 Amazon_Total_reviews_to_date  reviews that are generally mostly 10-12 years with the exception of one review posted 6 years ago on the Arctic Silver website while we did look for a material event that would explain the surge in reviews we were unable to find any.



Looking for anomalies in Amazon reviews is not really a challenging process open a few pages and start browsing just in the months of May and June I found these as stand outs, the first one here in June had 161 Reviews done in one day(June 11, 2015) as reviewers are paid by the review the association that they might be fake seems to be a distinct possibility.



This next one done on May  26 features 74 reviews Now there were a number of others in the Range of 20-30 in one day but these two were the stand outs but the fact that they are not caught by Amazon, impunes the possibility that Amazon does not really want to clean up their reviews? As I am a barking dog on the other side of the fence I am not privy to the kind of information that would identify this stuff conclusively as searching the site is a brute force as Amazon does not make it easy to scrape the site searching for patterns as well they have critical info as IP addresses that would help nail down fake reviewers



So the question is if one has reasonable anomalies in the review process can you trust any review or are you simply ingesting company propaganda?


As the buy unlimited reviews Astroturfers aggressively target verified purchases Amazon’s recent algorithm seems a bit off target.


With the help of a new machine-learning algorithm, Amazon will give greater weight to newer, more helpful and verified customer reviews (written comments) and ratings (the 5-star system) when determining top reviews to display, and when calculating a product’s overall rating.


There are programs available that can detect fake reviews with 90% accuracy so the question in this writer’s mind  is why doesn’t Amazon employ it or something like it?


The Reviews are one of the key aspects/cornerstones of Amazons business model as found in their mysterious Vine Voice program. The Vine program to this writer  seems pretty lame  when one considers that these are private individuals receiving “free” product and not necessarily emotionally/financially  invested  in it they would not be equal to say a Consumer Report with a dedicated engineers analysis of the product. For example Harriet Klausner with See all 30,838 reviews appears to write well but in many cases the reviews in my opinion are of low quality typically talking the company book (too much here?) as well as receiving thousand’s of free products it is now a business/career and I remain unconvinced that one person could be sufficiently knowledgeable on practically every product on Amazon to provide adequate/realistic insight into much of what they review.


To go in deeper and further and to expose the magnitude of this problem we will also take an in depth look the international maneuvers

some of these paid review companies and operators have managed to avoid further detection as well as prosecution both criminally and civilly

Updated 08/26/2015


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