Research company Gartner has predicted that within the next couple of years, the FTC will likely take action against a couple of Fortune 500 companies regarding the use of fake online reviews. There has been growing discussion of this issue in recent months, following a series of scandals and revelations.
The Gartner report, titled The Consequences of Fake Fans, ‘Likes’ and Reviews on Social Networks, claims that the FTC is already turning its attention to the issue of online reviews and endorsements. As noted previously, there are strict rules in the US (and many other countries) regarding such activities. Given the popularity and influence of social media, it wouldn’t be surprising if the FTC were to pick a couple of big-name targets in order to send out a warning to other firms.
The report also estimates that by 2014, between 10 and 15% of online reports will be bought and paid for. That estimate seems fairly conservative when compared to the claim by data-mining expert Bing Liu earlier this year that, already, one third of online consumer reviews are fake. Whatever the figures, though, it’s clear that no-one can simply rely on reviews at face value any more.