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Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company, has reached a settlement with the State of New York over its attempts to fake positive consumer reviews on the Web, the New York attorney generalís office said Tuesday.
The company had ordered employees to pretend they were satisfied customers and write glowing reviews of its face-lift procedure on Web sites, according to the attorney generalís statement. Lifestyle Lift also created its own sites of face-lift reviews to appear as an independent sources.
One e-mail message, discovered by the attorney generalís office, told employees to ďdevote the day to doing more postings on the Web as a satisfied client.Ē
The company will pay $300,000 in penalties and costs to the state. It has also agreed to stop publishing anonymous reviews on Web sites in the voices of satisfied customers and to identify any content created by employees, the statement said.
We implemented some new tactics to help cut down on the spam. They typically give up and head to another site... Unfortunately we don't share our tactics... We like to keep the spammers guessing... ;-)
If reviews are your business and you're looking at them all day, you'll spot junk fairly quickly, the same way webmasters spot fake blog comments.
Normal reviews contain a mix of positive and negative comments. If you're getting rave after rave ...
Also, if similar reviews are coming from the same range of IP addresses (or the same one) ...
Nasty reviews by a disgruntled customer, or competitor can really have a negative effect on your business. I think Apartment Reviews is a prime example of this. I used to live at a fairly nice apartment complex. Their rating was extremely low thanks to a fellow tenant, who couldn't stand the property manager. She posted dozens of bad reviews and single-handedly caused the rating to dip below 10. Conversely, there were glowing reviews that were clearly posted by the employees.
If a company's reputation wasn't at stake (positive or negative), I would write this off as a form of blogging, but damage can be done to either the business, or the consumer.
doesn't everyone know how to properly spread false information ;)
I don't know if I'm in favor or against government going after people writing reviews fake or not. On one hand it would be nice to see people held accountable for libel or false advertisement. On the other hand it makes me want to go back and review every opinionated article I have.
Actually, it was the company posting the false reviews that got fined.
This is fantastic news for sites that rely on user-generated reviews and other content. I think many businesses treat this sort of thing in a very cavalier way - knowing they could get fined out of business should put the brakes on phony posting plans.
In addition, if I were a reputation management service company or buzz marketing firm, I'd be wary of implying any kind of false posting service. All it would take is one disgruntled client or even a sales prospect that declined to do business to blow the whistle.
Yes, absolutely, and bank robbers need to wear masks.
>It's a bad decision against the freedom of speech and the Internet.
Yes, absolutely, and locked bank vaults are an unconscionable limitation on my right to pursue happiness.
Most small-to-medium businesses which I work with have few-to-no reviews in various online business directories. Simply asking your happiest customers to rate you in Yelp, Superpages, Yahoo, and Google Maps can result in a pretty rapid expansion of good reviews. And, there are other means.
Very interesting that such behavior can result in such substantial penalties! Most people seem to figure that what they do on the internet "doesn't count" so much.
it's a bit like this forum. the majority of stuff in the adsense forum is about things that google's broken or failed to fix, and all the good stuff gets drowned out.
Keeping it all in house, using employees to write them, owning the sites the reviews are on... wow.
It wouldn't have been any more honest to pay for reviews on any of the dozen paid review services but at least it would have been harder to track back to the source.
Wait, the court ruling doesn't stop them from buying paid reviews, I bet we see those next.
300k? That's a joke. The press alone from this incident -- if spun properly -- would probably help recuperate a ton of those costs.
In this case I disagree. The company involved is a cosmetic surgery business where reputation is everything. It's one thing if you sell widgets, it's something else entirely if you alter someones looks via a procedure.
I would think people would be concerned that they had to fake reviews. If you are good, you do not need to fake reviews, they happen naturally. If you are incompetent, maybe you need to fake them.
It's a bad decision against the freedom of speech and the Internet.
Fraud is not protected by the First Amendment. It is illegal to knowingly publish, broadcast or post false information for commercial purposes. It's ludicrous that these "reputation management" firms think they can openly perpetrate fraud and get by with it.
The $300,000 fine may or may not be a slap on the wrist but paid liars -- which is what reputation mangement is turning into -- should consider that fraud can in many cases be prosecuted criminally. Ask Bernard Madoff.
Fraud is not protected by the First Amendment.
Is this fraud (maybe it is?). If I go post fake glowing reviews about ski lessons I give or incentivize other people to do it, is that fraud?
paid liars -- which is what reputation mangement is turning into -- should consider that fraud can in many cases be prosecuted criminally.
That sounds like the definition of politicians and often PR agencies among other professions.