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Faked user reviews

posted Oct 19, 2009, 10:41 PM by CU Leeds MBAX 6350   [ updated May 3, 2010, 1:19 PM ]

In December 2009, Apple had to ban the app developer Molinker from the app store for faking user reviews. In this scenario, Molinker somehow "encouraged" shills to write positive (5-star) reviews of its apps. http://www.macnn.com/articles/09/12/07/fake.reviews.resulted.in.inflated.ratings/

 
Other users noticed something was fishy.
 
This story gives us lots of things to think about. For example:
  • Does a company whose products are reviewed online need to keep hands-off the review process?
  • Is encouraging satisfied customers to write reviews OK?
  • If so, how far can you go with encouragement and still be OK: can free product or cash be OK? Does the size of the reward matter for the ethics? 
  • Is it OK for the employees of a company to write positive reviews?
  • What kind of disclosure is appropriate in these situations?
  • What else matters or does not matter?
 
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