Your app flags the review
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. It’s not helpful if the reviews are also for a fake site! Watch out for the signs a shopping site is fake.
The profile is peculiar
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.
The reviewer received compensation
Yes, people get paid to write positive reviews for products. Amazon sued several of the biggest companies that provide this service, saying that their site was becoming “polluted” with paid-for reviews. The case is pending but even if these sites get shut down, it’s likely more will pop up in their place. It can be hard to tell if a reviewer is paid, but look for clues in their bio (like many very similar reviews) or watch for people admitting they got a gift card or some other compensation in return for their review. You can still get great deals on your favorite items without being paid for a review. These are the best ways to get deals on anything.