Fake news, fake views and now fake reviews! What’s next?

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Everyone has heard of, or been affected by, fake news. And, in the age of AI driven content (well, everything) most will have experienced fake views.

Now we can add to the list of fake things. It turns out that fake reviews are on the rise and already a ‘thing’. The review concept is simple and compelling and akin to a recommendation from a neutral third party. Whether you are looking for a restaurant or a dress, those apparently independent reviews tend to influence your decision.

The trouble is that a huge number of those dazzling five star reviews are now fake and either created by bots or produced by people in emerging economies, where they used to spend their days clicking on adverts to fool a brand into thinking they were a lot cooler and clicked on than they actually were.

The UK newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, tried an experiment. They chose a public park in London, went online (Facebook) and sought someone who could promote the park as a great attraction. With astonishing ease, reviews for the park started appearing. ‘Great customer service, great value, fantastic food and great venue’ was top of the list of recommendations for the park that did not serve food and did not charge to get in.

It is becoming such a problem that social media sites are having to invest already stretched resources to combat this weird new threat to the sanity of our online world. Amazon, who relies to a very great degree on its third party (customers who bought this also looked at that) recommendations is spending close to one percent of its annual expenses bill on fighting it. And that is a number well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

All of this adds to the burden that social media (particularly) is having to bear. And while fighting fake news, views and now reviews is a noble cause, the truth is that in ever increasing numbers, customers will simply not go near the now established social platforms like Facebook.

In fact a whole new raft of social platforms are appearing, with China very much in the lead, and Generation Z (Zers, to be with the cool kids) is creating its own rules on social media (and the internet).

Soon, the social media landscape will look very different – and it may well not involve cryptocurrencies.

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