“Agreements were reached with a charter bus operator, a teeth-whitening service, a laser hair-removal chain and an adult entertainment club…dentists, lawyers and an ultra-sound clinic had all commissioned fake reviews.”
— “Fake online reviews crackdown in New York sees 19 companies fined,” The Guardian, 23 September 2013.
One of the biggest problems with online reviews is astroturfing, the term for paid content posted as organic/unsolicited input. Yesterday a settlement was reached in New York state between the government and businesses that bought and sold astroturf reviews.
When credibility can be faked so easily, brand names — as a promise of what a buyer can expect and a company will deliver — may matter now more than ever.