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Not sure of online reviews? Use Fakespot.com to verify them
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Not sure of online reviews? Use Fakespot.com to verify them

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I heavily rely on reviews of restaurants and hotels on Tripadvisor when planning travel. I also rely on reviews of products at Amazon when buying anything from large appliances to shampoo.

But one of today’s most irritating internet phenomena is fake reviews. Especially on products from smaller companies, just a few reviews by paid reviewers can give a skewed view of reality.

Fakespot.com is a website dedicated to “fact checking” the reviews on Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and the Apple App Store.

Fakespot looks through the reviews for a specific product, service or business.

It uses several measures to sniff out fake reviews: One is whether the reviewer has submitted an unusual number of favorable reviews. If so, it’s highly likely that they are a reviewer paid, so “there may be deception involved.”

Fakespot also looks for phrases and wording commonly used in fake reviews.

How it works

Point your browser to fakespot.com and paste the URL (web address) of the product or business from Amazon, Tripadvisor, etc. into the search box.

For a Paris hotel I found on TripAdvisor, Fakespot gave the reviews an overall rating of B, and showed the following Analysis Overview:

Our engine has discovered that over 80% high quality reviews are present.

Our engine detects that in general the reviewers have a positive sentiment.

Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there is minimal deception involved.

Our engine has determined that the review content quality is high and informative.

The most used word by reviewers is “hotel.”

By contrast, for an anti-hair loss shampoo I searched for on Amazon, Fakespot gave the reviews a scathing F rating. The Analysis Overview for this product is as follows. The last two lines were even shown in red:

Our engine has analyzed and discovered that 3.7 percent of the reviews are reliable.

Interesting tidbit: The most used word by reviewers is “hair.”

How are reviewers describing this item? first, great, new and tried.

Our engine detects that in general the reviewers have a suspiciously positive sentiment.

Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there is high deception involved.

Finally, with 4½ stars and over 8,000 reviews, I was skeptical of the reviews for a knife sharpener, but Fakespot gave them an A rating and the following Analysis:

Our engine has discovered that over 90 percent high quality reviews are present.

Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there is minimal deception involved.

Interesting tidbit: The most used word by reviewers is “knives.”

How are reviewers describing this item? small, sharp, great, easy and good.

Our engine has detected that Amazon has deleted and scrubbed reviews from this listing. We approximate total reviews deleted to be 3,669.

Previous analysis of this listing was an B grade.

I stumbled upon this site based on one of my favorite resources — Lynda.com.

To see a video demo of how Fakespot works, login to Lynda.com and look for its series called “Monday Productivity Pointers.” The video on Fakespot is from July 2017.

All Kenosha residents can get access to Lynda.com through Kenosha Public Library.

Carol Sabbar is director of computer services at Carthage College. Send email to csabbar@yahoo.com.

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