In a much needed move, the New York state attorney general's office ordered 19 companies to stop posting fake online reviews of their product/services, and asked them to pay fines totaling $350,000 to settle charges for posting reviews on sites like Google+, Yelp, among others, reports Times of India. This follows an undercover investigation, pretending to represent a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn, and approaching Search Engine Optimization firms to boost its online presence. Typically, online reviews tend to be trusted by potential customers, because they appear to be from other customers, especially those with previous experience with the service or product. A couple of years ago while I was still in college, a social media agency from Mumbai had approached me with a similar, part-time job. My job would have been to visit various forums, review sites, blogs, and post about my 'experience' with the agency's clients. I would have to make comments with a certain set of keywords given to me but write different sentences every time. Getting a part time job offer while still in college seemed like a good way to make some extra cash and I suppose these agencies outsource such jobs to students, who have extra time and need some quick way to get money. Needless to say I did not accept the offer. Fake online reviews do not just deceive users, they also affect the user review sites. Many times, companies even post negative reviews about competing brands: in December 2012, user reviews portal MouthShut.com had deleted…
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