Detect Fake Online Reviews By Knowing The Words To Look For

Detect Fake Online Reviews By Knowing The Words To Look For

Sometimes there are more obvious tell-tale signs of fake online reviews, but product manufacturers are getting more creative. As the New York Times points out, you sometimes need to dig a little deeper into the actual language to detect an impostor.

What words and phrases do you want to look for? High usage of the first-person singular, verbs, and adverbs tend to be indicators, but you’ll also want to keep an eye out for specifics. References to the people the review was with (e.g. “my husband” or “my family”) and the exact details of the product or service in the review (e.g. “The Superawesome Hotel in Downtown Chicago” or “My First Autopsy Playkit”) occurred more often in fake reviews than real ones. In fact, these indicators tended to be the strongest (along with usage of the first-person singular). While you can never really know for sure, if you’re concerned about trusting a review you might want to look for these criteria.

Hit up the Times for a look at the full infographic, and check out this study for a little further reading.

Is That Review Fake? [New York Times]


  • I generally check out independent tech reviews, for tech stuff. If you can’t find reviews then it’s either too new or crap. As for Hotels etc apart from what Adam has written, the Problem is, you can never really trust these types of reviews, most people aren’t going to write lengthy reviews, because they couldn’t be bothered! All you can do is hope you’re looking at the real thing. Don’t trust in-house reviews! Look up independents! #}

  • I rely on the percentage of fake reviews to tell me when not to buy something as if they’ve had to farm it out to freelancers to write reviews for them they’re not interested in a good product/service and a relationship with you about it, they’re just after a sale.

  • That “specific name” thing is a big tell for me, especially in the example pictured. I’m not so sure about the “My husband and I” thing as that is a little too common in personal reviews. However, saying “My husband and I stayed here…” compared to “My husband and I stayed at blah blah Hotel…” is definitely very obvious.

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