It turns out all those fake-sounding reviews on Amazon.com probably are. Bing Liu, a data-mining expert tells the New York Times that about one in three online reviews are fake.
The reason: there’s a lot of money in fake reviews, according to an excellent exposé by the New York Times’s David Streitfield.
Take the case of Todd Rutherford, for example.
Eventually, Rutherford realised he could cut out the middleman. So he started charging money to write reviews. He would charge $99 for one review, $499 for 20 and $999 for 50. He eventually published 4,531 reviews and at one point pulled in 28,000 per month.
The business worked because it worked for Rutherford’s clients. Authors who get a bunch of reviews on Amazon tend to sell more books than those who don’t.
The business eventually cratered when Rutherford Google realised he was selling positive reviews and refused to sell him any more ads. Then Amazon nuked almost all of his reviews.
Rutherford is now selling RVs, offline. But he’s angling for a way to get back in the game. His most recent plan is to charge $99 to write tweets about books for his 33,000 Twitter followers.
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