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3 Tips to Spot a Fake Online Review

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Picture it.

You're searching for the best, most secure phone case for your very expensive smart phone. You've done some googling to find affordable yet quality options! As you're about to click 'Add to Cart' on your favorite online shopping website you notice a horrible one star review.

I mean... I have to read what it says before I spend my money...

Cut to, you've now lost 20 minutes scrolling through the reviews, bouncing between horrible 1 Star Reviews and very over-enthusiastic 5 Star Reviews, and everything in-between. Rather than feeling more certain about the product, you somehow now know more about about a woman named Janet in South Dakota than you do about the case itself!

If you've ever found yourself in this position, you're not alone. Reviews have become prevalent in the world of online shopping, and for good reason. Consumers now have a voice, and chances are high reading reviews has become part of your decision-making process.

Unfortunately, sellers know this, and in a world where you can't scrub away negative reviews, sometimes sellers try to drown out the negative with planted fake reviews. A practice that even has a name now: astroturfing. contributor, Jessica Stillman breaks down 'How to Spot Fake Online Reviews With 90 Percent Accuracy, According to Science!'

Let's take a look together.


As they say the devil is in the details! It's like in middle school when you had to write a research paper on a book you **ahem** forgot to read. It's very difficult to describe what you haven't experienced first-hand. If a review is filled with rather unspecific praise, they may be faking it.

According to a Research Study done at Cornell University, "Truthful hotel reviews, for example, are more likely to use concrete words relating to the hotel, like 'bathroom,' 'check-in' or 'price.' Deceivers write more about things that set the scene, like 'vacation,' 'business trip' or 'my husband.'

Tip 2: ME ME ME

Thank you for the details about yourself, but what does that have to do about this bar of soap, Sir? According to research, the more frequent first-person pronouns appear in a review, the higher the odds that it's all a big fake-fake-fake! Constantly hammering on the me and I may just be a ploy to come across as more sincere, while also contributing to the minimum word requirement.

Tip 3: NOUN is the Time to Seize The Day!

If you put the number of nouns on a scale against the number of verbs, which would win out? Language analysis of the fake reviews found that the scale tipped exceedingly more for the verbs than the nouns. Honest reviews were filled with far more nouns than verbs. A reason for this often falls in the usage of good or bad stories rather than any insight.

Tricky huh?


Janet from South Dakota who is purchasing a graduation gift for their nephew was more worried about filling the Yelp character minimum because they weren't able to share how fantastic the purchase was...

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What do you think?

Have you ever come across a review that felt fishy to you?

OR have you ever been so persuaded by a review that you purchased instantly?

As the hosts of the podcast Review That Review with Chelsey Donn & Trey Gerrald, we are acutely aware of how wild the world of online reviews can get! We spend lots of our time searching and scavenging the web for the best and worst reviews out there. Hopefully, these 3 amazing tips can help you guard yourself from the fakes in the world.

Our comedy podcast Review That Review is dedicated to! As the Review Queens, every Wednesday we each bring in a hilarious, scathing, (sometimes suspicious) review from the internet and rate and review it on a scale of 1 to 5 Crowns! Things get wild. Think of us as the Siskel & Ebert of Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, ZocDoc, RateMyProfessors, etc. We'd love for you join us!

Check it out below!


Written By Trey Gerrald

Review Queen & Co-Host of Podcast Review That Review