Your app flags the review
Montri Thipsorn/Shutterstock Sometimes the best way to spot a computer-generated review is with another computer—and thankfully tech is on the good guys’ side as well as the bad guys.’ Fakespot, both a site and an in-browser app, allows you to copy and paste the URL of a review you’re concerned about into a box and then analyzes it with a computer algorithm for telltale signs of fakery. It will tell you what percent of the reviews for a product are considered “low quality,” meaning how many it thinks are likely to be phonies. It works best for Amazon reviews and it’s not perfect—it flagged one review I posted that was totally legit (I promise!)—but in this case it might be better to err on the side of too safe. Review Skeptic is another site aimed at sniffing out phony hotel and travel reviews. Here are the signs a shopping site is fake.
The profile is peculiar
tuthelens/Shutterstock Most sites make users register an account before they can leave a review. Even if it’s not their real name (and it usually isn’t), you can still see all their past reviews by clicking on their username. If they only have one review and it’s for the product you’re looking at, be very wary. You can also look for patterns, like only reviewing one type of product (say, diet pills), only leaving very positive reviews, or only reviewing products from one company. Real people generally have a wide range of interests, tastes, and opinions, which will be reflected in their reviews. It’s an extra step but it’s worth it if you find yourself particularly swayed by a specific review.