Paid Online Reviews

Ever wonder how “Fifty Shades of Grey” could garner any five-star reviews on Amazon (AMZN)? Well wonder no more. The New York Times points to new research from data-mining expert Bing Liu from the University of Chicago estimating that roughly one-third of all online reviews are posted by people who have some sort of financial incentive to praise the product in question. Liu says that this could mean actual customers who are given a discount on the product in exchange for writing a positive review, third-party reviewers-for-hire who take payments for posting positive reviews online, or even marketers themselves who give glowing reviews of their own company’s products.