Phony online reviews

Bravo to New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who’s attempting to dismantle what he calls “a system of creating false online reviews for products and services,” according to a recent Associated Press article.

“Large scale intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution,” he said. By next year, one researcher estimates, 10 to 15 percent of social media reviews will be fake.

That figure seems conservative. A travel and dining aficionado, I’ve long been suspicious of Trip Advisor reviews of hotels and restaurants, and Yelp is hopeless. There must be shady dealings going on to explain why terrible places get rave reviews. The problem isn’t confined to English language reviews, either. I often see bogus reviews in fractured French or grammatically challenged Spanish. And of course many so-called respected online travel guide reviews are ancient, terribly out of date, and cannot be trusted.

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