The statistics published in the first Trustpilot Transparency Report highlight the growing issue of fraudulent reviews and opens up the inner workings of the business to demonstrate the safeguarding measures it deploys.
Peter Holten Mühlmann, Founder and CEO of Trustpilot, said the launch of the report, which is the first of its kind, comes at a critical time for both online retail and the platform itself.
A marked increase in online shopping over the past 12 months highlights the importance of maintaining open, transparent platforms for consumers to seek reviews and recommendations.
“The popularity of online reviews has given consumers the confidence to buy more online from more businesses of all shapes and sizes. Fake reviews and misinformation are the enemy, and we continue to do all we can to prevent consumers from being misled,” he said.
“Trust is in our name, and trust is at the heart of all that we do as a business; if we are to be successful, we have to be more open and transparent in the way that we work.”
Trustpilot Transparency Report
Trustpilot’s Transparency Report shows that across 2020, more than 39 million written reviews were posted to its platform. Nearly 2.2 million – or 5.7% – of these were removed for being fake or harmful, the Danish company said.
Critically, the report highlights that safeguards implemented by the company are working.
Fraud detection software used by Trustpilot automatically deleted 1.5 million fake reviews while around 650,000 were removed manually.
The company said it uses a combination of “customised fraud detection software” alongside an international team of analysts and investigators who examine reviews each day.
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“The techniques adopted by those who want to manipulate the content on the platform constantly evolve, and therefore we must also constantly adapt to stay ahead,” the report states.
Businesses also appear to be pro-actively addressing fake reviews, the report shows. Nearly half-a-million suspicious reviews were reported by retailers and service providers according to Trustpilot. Of these, nearly two-third (62%) were removed.
What constitutes a ‘fake review’?
Trustpilot says it defines fake reviews as those which “don’t reflect a genuine service or buying experience with a business” or those which have been left in an attempt to “manipulate consumer perception or negatively target a particular business”.
While businesses may dispute reviews for any number of reasons, the platform says it is crucial that authentic reviews regarded as being unfair by the business must be acknowledged.
Other types of reviews considered to be ‘fake’ by Trustpilot include:
- A business leaving a review on its own Trustpilot profile
- A review that has been paid for in an effort to manipulate a business’s rating on Trustpilot
- A review left on a competitor’s Trustpilot page in a deliberate attempt to undermine their rating
- Advertising or promotional messages of any kind that are disguised as reviews
- A review that has been removed from the platform because it contains harmful or illegal content
- A review that is not based on a genuine experience or is not about the business being reviewed
The release of Trustpilot’s Transparency Report follows recent controversy surrounding fake Amazon reviews. Earlier this week, an investigation by consumer rights group Which? revealed dozens of websites selling fake five-star Amazon reviews for as little as £5.
Ten websites were uncovered by researchers which offered a range of packages, including bulk rates of up to 1,000 reviews for £8,000.
Trustpilot also revealed how it enforces the guidelines set out for businesses and consumers. Throughout the year, Trustpilot issued 38,957 warnings, 1030 formal ‘cease and desist’ letters and posted 5222 Consumer Warnings publicly on profiles it deemed to be in breach of the rules. Additionally, 122 businesses also had their contracts terminated.
Carolyn Jameson, Trustpilot’s Chief Trust Officer, said the company’s transparent approach and strict enforcement of guidelines helps ensure consumers trust the information shared via its platform.
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“The integrity of reviews and how they’re managed differs greatly across the internet. Our open approach provides everyone with the ability to have their say at any time, without waiting to be invited and without interference, giving a more holistic and authentic view of what’s really going on,” she said.
“At Trustpilot, we’re surfacing what we do and giving everyone more understanding and greater confidence in the information on our platform. We want people to continue to trust what they see,” Jameson added.