A leading internet reviews site was forced to pull 2.7 million entries submitted to its platform in 2021 because of fraud, a 23% increase compared to 2020.
The figures come from Trustpilot’s latest Transparency Report. It’s unclear what factors accounted for the surge in takedowns: more reviews being published last year, more fraud on the site or more accurate detection.
The actual percentage of detected fake reviews increased only slightly, from 5.7% to 5.8% of the annual total since the firm first started publishing figures in 2020. However, the number of reviews left on the site surged 21% over the period to a record 46.7 million.
Trustpilot said 1.8 million of these takedowns were due to detections from its own technology, a 19% increase from the previous year. It also issued 121,048 warnings in 2021, a threefold increase compared to 2020.
Other tools in the firm’s arsenal include placing warning banners on erring firms’ profile pages, alerting consumers when misuse has been identified on the page and cease and desist letters.
Trustpilot considers a number of factors when appraising whether a review is fake or not. It could be: a business leaving a review on its own profile page; paid reviews; content deemed promotional, harmful or illegal; or reviews not based on genuine experiences. Trustpilot will also remove reviews left on competitors’ sites to lower their ratings.
“Trust in reviews remains absolutely crucial in order to ensure consumers can make more informed decisions, and businesses can demonstrate their commitment to providing a good customer experience,” argued the firm’s founder and CEO, Peter Muhlmann.
However, fake online reviews are a growing problem, linked to an estimated $152bn in global purchases each year.
In February, Trustpilot launched its first-ever legal action against a company accused of soliciting fake reviews in order to boost its standing online.