Fake reviews and conflicts of interest?
November 20, 2013 8:13 AM   Subscribe

What are some instances where people got caught praising a business that they worked for or a Scott Adams-like fiasco where the person being praised turned out to be the person posting?

So I was reading this article about a hotel exec who got caught writing positive reviews of his hotels online and wondered how often this happens in our ultra connected world.
posted by jihaan to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Another MeFi-specific example comparable to the Scott Adams fiasco is the Givewell fiasco.

But generally, yeah, this happens a lot.
posted by ook at 8:18 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Incidentally, after the whole thing blew over, Givewell apparently returned Holden Karnofsky to his position as executive director.)
posted by ook at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

In recent news, some Toronto radio hosts think it was Rob Ford himself who called in as a regular joe-type guy to praise, yes, Rob Ford.
posted by ejazen at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2013

John Mackey of Whole Foods did it for 7 years.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:36 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

A similar, yet opposite thing that has been happening to a lot of small business owners lately, is that a local competitor will post a bad review on Yelp or similar review site pretending to be a client, but it turns out they are just trying to hurt their competition. I know a fair amount of wedding photographers who have had this happen. There doesn't seem to be an easy way to only allow actual clients to review your services.
Also, many companies pay people to go on social media and forums to "promote" their products by saying they had used it and it worked well. It later turns out that they work for the company. (Example - cosmetics, supplements, etc.)
Sorry, no specific examples of people getting caught though, but these things are commonly taking place on the internet daily.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:49 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

In case anyone else was bemused by the reference to "Scott Adams fiasco", here it is.
posted by epo at 9:09 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I caught one once.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:51 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

In addition to the Astroturfing link in ook's answer, you might also want to take a peek at the incidents listed in the Wikipedia entry for "Sockpuppet". For example,
Lee Siegel, a writer for The New Republic magazine, was suspended for defending his articles and blog comments under the user name "Sprezzatura." In one such comment, "Sprezzatura" defended Siegel's bad reviews of Jon Stewart: "Siegel is brave, brilliant and wittier than Stewart will ever be."
Not included in that entry is the John Lott/Mary Rosh episode.
posted by mhum at 12:37 PM on November 20, 2013

There's the case of Orlando Figes's self-authored, sockpuppet reviews of his own books and attacks on his rivals'. He initially denied any involvement, then tried to throw his wife under the bus by blaming her for them, before he was found out. He was ordered to pay damages.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2013

Amongst other things, my job at Chowhound is to detect when the restaurant reviews on our site have been written by the owners or employees of a restaurant and remove them. While I can't provide much in the way of details, I can say that on the small scale of individual restaurant owners/chefs (rather than CEOs of major corporations or famous authors) the answer is "a lot" but maybe also "not as much as you'd imagine". We find a few instances of shilling every day, but I could easily imagine the problem being vastly worse than it is.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:33 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

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