Is That Review For Real?

By’s got a new scandal on its hands involving sketchy sale-boosting—buying positive customer reviews. And this is no website-specific phenomenon. Yelp, Citysearch, TripAdvisor are guilty of hosting the fake review as well. Price tags and 5-stars are increasingly associated, undermining the purpose of the customer reviews for online shopping, which has warranted research on “deceptive opinion spam” from Cornell University. They are trying to filter the fake from the real with the use of an algorithm with hopes of preserving the integrity of the review system, which has proven to work most of the time.

“’We evolved over 60,000 years by talking to each other face to face,’ said Jeffrey T. Hancock, a Cornell professor of communication and information science who worked on the project. ‘Now we’re communicating in these virtual ways. It feels like it is much harder to pick up clues about deception.’”

Sam Riley is an adult who works at McSweeney's. More from this author →