Wall Street Journal, BBC Spotlight Georgios Zervas’s Research on Fake Online Reviews

in Emerging Research, Faculty, Faculty in the News, Marketing, News
September 25th, 2013

Media references SMG assistant professor’s paper “Fake it Till You Make it”

The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly spotlighted the research of Georgios Zervas, Boston University School of Management assistant professor of marketing, on the consequences of fake online reviews. Both the Journal’s Corporate Intelligence blog and its “Morning Risk Report,” which provides insights and news on governance, risk, and compliance, featured recent posts on the writing and solicitation of fake online reviews.

One post, “Fake Reviews Raise Reputation Stakes,” was prompted by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s targeting fraudulent online reviewers this week under his new initiative “Operation Clean Turf,” a yearlong undercover investigation into the reputation management industry, the manipulation of consumer-review websites, and the practice of astroturfing.

Zervas notes that the consequences for writing and soliciting fake reviews are very low and that, for anyone with a computer, crafting a fake review is simple. He is quoted saying:

“The New York attorney general is trying to increase the cost of being uncovered as a fraudster. I think it’s a small first step in the right direction.”

Zervas, who completed his PhD in 2011 in computer science at Boston University, also explains that the problem of fake reviews extends beyond New York’s borders. His paper “Fake it Till You Make it” was co-authored with Harvard Business School assistant professor Michael Luca.

Focusing on the issue of fake restaurant reports, BBC News, in the article “Yelp admits a quarter of submitted reviews could be fake,” writes,

Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Georgios Zervas of Boston University studied the incidence of fraudulent reviews of Boston restaurants posted to Yelp, including those that had been filtered out.

After analysing more than 310,000 reviews of 3,625 restaurants, they found that negative fake reviews occurred in response to increased competition, while positive fake reviews were used to strengthen a weak reputation or to counteract unflattering reviews.

Read more from from BBC News or the Journal‘s “Morning Risk Report“, Corporate Intelligence blog, or MarketWatch site.