Image: Alamy via The Telegraph


Last time out, we looked at whether opinion polls really matter in an Internet age.

They probably don’t, because the number of “average” people who really take random calls has vastly decreased, due to advanced communications technology.

News organizations may still report breathlessly on these polls. That doesn’t prove they mean anything, in the way they might have done decades ago.

The same could be said of online reviews,

More than half of the adults in Britain, around 25 million people, use online review websites such as Amazon, Tripadvisor, Expedia and Checkatrade to find the best deals.

But their impressions are “distorted” by the growth of a “clandestine” market for fake reviews, the Competition and Market Authority has discovered. It found some companies were breaking the law by writing flattering posts about themselves to boost their rankings.

Others were offering money, free product samples or other “rewards” to people who write positive reviews or give five-star ratings. In some cases, rival firms were posting disparaging remarks each other to cloud the judgement of by potential customers.

And some review websites were hiding negative reviews because they had commercial arrangements with the companies facing criticism. The scale of the issue is unknown because fake reviews are difficult to spot, the CMA said. 

Some claim, as per the vid below, that algorithms can be used to spot these scams. But if human beings are running the scams, I bet they will outsmart the system.

The main thing is, as always, buyer beware.

Should economics studies in high school incorporate studies of the ways the Internet can be used to deceive people?

See also: The click farm where Facebook friends are manufactured.

Also, those Ashley Madison women who are willing to have a wild fling affair may not really exist.

Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...