4-Star Fake Review Issue - Over 2.3 Million Fake Ratings on Google


Cherie Dickey

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Jan 30, 2018
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Looking this morning, it looks like the profiles (and their ratings) have been removed. Some of the listings I peeked at are a bit buggy when trying to look for the most recent reviews. I would imagine that will sort out with time.

I was going to comb through all of our listings this morning...am I correct in thinking that's not needed at this time?
 

OIG_Steve

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Apr 3, 2016
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This could be an extremely revenue-affecting situation for individual businesses in competitive markets, especially if reviews change in the knowledge panel in near real time.

I can imagine this fake reviews attempt being an initial test to monitor reaction time by google on what could normally go undetected, and reaction time by businesses who don't watch reviews except occasionally. Many small business owners are too busy and/or can't afford the time to look and see if they have been a victim.

Additionally, the perpetrators could have just used fake user-submitted images instead of reviews if they wanted a lasting effect. Could be a much more effective way to ruin a business quickly since google is so uninterested in GMB image spam. (SNARKY comment, sorry, but GMB image spam is without a concrete solution still. At least yelp offers an option to help - a paid subscription option to move honest images to the front of the image sequence)

Google - if you are listening - how about a serious attempt at verifying whether a purchase has been made, OR using bluetooth beacons to verify extreme proximity? I recently asked for driving directions to drop off friends at a concert hall, then dropped them off, and after some time, google then sent me a request to review the concert hall.

In other words, google, if you are listening - review spam and image spam is serious stuff needing actual attention. The value of selling fake reviews is high when businesses are not competing ethically, which happens for niche offerings in competitive markets, especially when an owner starts getting desperate to maintain a dropping but long-time source of income.
 

iFuse

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Nov 25, 2013
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Still showing 7 fakes on my profile - KickStart Dental Marketing, but several have dropped off.
 
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Mar 28, 2013
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I think we have all of the review profile names: Four star attacks
If you see new ones, let me know
Thank you @keyserholiday ! I can confirm that the fake reviews have been removed from many of our client listings. We're continuing to check but it appears Google has addressed the problem. Now here's hoping they introduce a failsafe that prevents accounts from posting massive numbers of reviews.
 

keyserholiday

Local Search Expert
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Jul 27, 2017
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Got word from Google re 4-star attacks:
"Google is aware of the issue and working to address it. If you are still seeing these reviews on your listing after 48 hours, please contact support and they will investigate the issue further."
 

Scott Rawlins

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For a client of mine, I've been watching the review count go down all day. Started with 34, then down to 30, now at 24. Hopefully, this trend will continue. However, the review count says 24, but I don't see that many in the window. Only time will tell I guess.
 
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Incidentally, we're also noticing that client locations where fake reviews have been removed are now displaying incorrect review counts. Google tells us the removal of the fake reviews may have caused a latency in review counts and that everything should return to normal in a few days.
 
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This highlights the fact that while Google has an enormous brain trust that has built an incredibly sophisticated and effective organic ranking algorithm, for whatever reason, they have yet to apply much resources (obviously) to improving AI regarding fake/spam reviews. I would expect with happenings like this, someone at Google will take notice and we'll see them make headway on their review filter in the coming months.

On a side note, what would be one's reasoning for taking action against Google on this? GMB listings are FREE. Newsflash: Google has no obligation to even list your business! Boy, the overly litigious society we live in never ceases to amaze me.
 
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I have calculated that over 2.3 Million ratings have been posted by these 37 accounts. They are averaging 64,000 ratings per profile. The attacks are not just isolated to the US as the Global GMB thread is getting hammered with requests for help too.
Nice catch, Keyserholiday! Kudos.
Somebody got some 'splainin' to do!
 

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