How to Spot Fake Product Reviews

When Amazon allowed customers to post reviews of the books they bought in 1995, it changed the way people chose what to buy. Reviews had long been the provenance of gatekeepers: at that time, the newspapers and magazines that published book reviews. As Amazon branched out into other products, these customer reviews took the place of those in print media that covered specialist subjects such as computing, photography, and more.

Now, reviews are everywhere and most people seem inclined to put at least some faith in them. How many times have you seen a product on Amazon or another site, or a restaurant or hotel, with four- or five-star reviews and been disappointed by it after your direct experience?

This is because the review system on Amazon (and other websites) has been gamed. In this article, I’m going to tell you how you can spot fake reviews and I’ll show you a couple of websites that can help you sort the real reviews from the bogus.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Tell If an Online Article is Real, Fake or a Scam

Fake news, scams, and phishing are the plague of our times. It’s getting increasingly difficult to determine which websites are presenting truthful information. I’m not just talking about political views; people can disagree about those, and while you may not like what you read on certain sites, that doesn’t mean, as some like to say, “it’s fake news.”

A Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college found that some 82 percent of them cannot distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. These findings present a real risk when visiting websites you’re not familiar with; and, not just for students, for everyone. How can you know if what you’re reading online is telling the truth or trying to scam you either directly—such as by trying to sell you something, or get your personal information—or indirectly, by spreading lies, or by sowing doubt?

In this article, we offer a few tips to help you sort the wheat from the chaff on the Internet. These tips will help you determine if an online article is real, fake or a scam.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

Learn How to Be More Productive with Take Control of Your Productivity

TCoYourProductivity 1 0 coverIf you’re like me, you have lots of tasks to juggle, and you may find that the tools you use aren’t sufficient to manage your work. Jeff Porten’s new book Take Control of Your Productivity has shown me that there are many options that I had not considered to develop a system to efficiently manage what I do.

Jeff has been studying and using a wide variety of productivity systems for decades, and although they all offer useful insights, none of them worked well for him. So Jeff developed a system that combines some of the best features of other approaches with his own “special sauce.” The result, described in detail in Take Control of Your Productivity, is a powerful yet flexible way to get all your ducks in a row and keep them there.

Whether you’ve been using a formal system like Getting Things Done or just making do with simple lists and calendars, this book will show you how to improve your approach so you can finish your projects and reach your goals—on time, with as little stress as possible.

Some of the things you’ll learn in this book:

  • What’s good (and bad) about your current approach to managing your time and activities
  • How to set and prioritize both short-term and long-term goals
  • How to pick a task-management app that’s appropriate for your needs (and whether that should be a simple app like Reminders, a more robust app such as Things or OmniFocus, or a super-complex tool such as Daylite)
  • What other productivity tools you’ll use alongside your main task management app, and how they all work together
  • Exactly how to track all your events and tasks, making sure everything happens in the right order
  • How to transition from an old system to your new system without worrying that anything will fall through the cracks
  • Where and how to collect all the thoughts and facts you encounter during the day that you might need to remember later—and what to do with them
  • What to do when you start on a task, only to find out that it’s much bigger than you expected
  • How to cope and adjust when something goes wrong—whether it’s a minor setback or a major life problem

Get Take Control of Your Productivity.

How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews – The Washington Post

On Amazon, customer comments can help a product surge in popularity. The online retail giant says that more than 99 percent of its reviews are legitimate because they are written by real shoppers who aren’t paid for them.

But a Washington Post examination found that for some popular product categories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers, the vast majority of reviews appear to violate Amazon’s prohibition on paid reviews. Such reviews have certain characteristics, such as repetitive wording that people probably cut and paste in.

Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook, where sellers seek shoppers on dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give glowing feedback in exchange for money or other compensation. The practice artificially inflates the ranking of thousands of products, experts say, misleading consumers.

Amazon.com banned paying for reviews a year and a half ago because of research it conducted showing that consumers distrust paid reviews. Every once in a while, including this month, Amazon purges shoppers from its site whom it accuses of breaking its policies.

But the ban, sellers and experts say, merely pushed an activity that used to take place openly into dispersed and harder-to-track online communities.

It’s tough, with some items, to separate out the fake reviews from the real ones. Amazon does indicate which reviews are for purchases – you can post reviews even if you haven’t purchased an item from Amazon, at least for some product categories – but the way the review-for-sale system works is the sellers “sell” the item for free, or for a nominal fee (such as 1 cent).

I know about this, because I have long posted reviews on Amazon, and am a Vine Voice on Amazon.com, and a top-1000 reviewer on Amazon UK. For a while, I would allow companies to contact me to request reviews, and I did review a handful of products like this, but I stopped, because most of them were crap. I reviewed some electronic product once and gave it one star, and the vendor got really angry at me because they had sent me the item, and expected a five-star review.

I no longer accept unsolicited items, but still write review of things I buy; mostly books, music, and DVDs, but also some other items, if I have an urge to write something when Amazon emails me.

As the article points out, there are certain product categories where this is more of a problem. No-name Bluetooth headphones, diet supplements, even Apple Watch bands; these are the areas where cheap Chinese brands try to game the system. For more expensive products, you can generally trust reviewers, at least if the product is a verified purchase. I look at reviews for audio equipment, camera accessories, and even books, and find them to be, for the most part, honest.

But the system is flawed. You can generally trust those well-rated reviewers, but a former number one reviewer on Amazon.com, who reviewed thousands of books, turned out to have been a fraud, so you never know.

Source: How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews – The Washington Post

Audiobooks on Vinyl?

From Billboard:

The resurgence of vinyl continues, as Hachette Audio, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, and Wax Audio Group has announced a new series of vinyl + digital audiobook titles in 2018. The range will include releases read by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jerry Garcia, Amanda Palmer and Steve Jones, among others. The series launches with David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water, which is available today (Feb. 27).

WTF? Seriously, why would anyone do this? No one is going to listen to an audiobook on vinyl. This is just capitalizing on the lets-buy-vinyl-so-we-can-flog-it-on-eBay-in-a-few-years boom.

Among such creative executions of Hachette and Wax’s audiobook-on-vinyl titles: Wallace’s This Is Water is available in two limited collector’s editions — 1,500 copies will feature a blue-and-white water-inspired design for online orders, while independent bookstores and music stores will get 500 copies on orange colored vinyl.

“Creative executions…” Pfft.