The Importance of Trusted Reviews in a Changing Digital Landscape

4 min read

TripAdvisor is one of those platforms that feel ubiquitous in India and just about every other country in the world. You look for a hotel, restaurant, or any type of attraction, and the review platform will invariably arrive at the top of the search engine results. In 2022, the platform hit the milestone of one billion reviews. It is, of course, a handy resource, but many of us are aware that all reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, there was the curious case in 2017 of a restaurant getting rave reviews even though it did not exist. People, it seems, like to leave reviews even if they have not been to a venue, or if that venue is completely fictional. 

Nonetheless, TripAdvisor is only one example of a multi-faceted reviews industry that makes the commerce of the internet tick. Many have heard of so-called fake review factories – those armies of product reviewers who blight all types of websites, including Facebook and Amazon. The fact that many of us are skeptical when it comes to reading a review makes it all the more important to find them from trusted sources. Often, that leads us to peruse expert review platforms instead of those that are mostly user-based. 

Expert reviews can be more beneficial than user reviews

A good example can be found in the online casino sector. For instance, if I wanted to learn about the popular sports betting and casino site 10CRIC, I’d read 10CRIC casino reviews from experts rather than social media. The reason is that a casino & sportsbook is a sophisticated platform, and I will need to know a lot of information – payment methods, licensing, bonuses, games, payout times, rules, and so on. You won’t get this information from a player leaving a few lines of commentary on a review platform. The same goes for important purchases like a car. You would want to know as much as possible before you make that purchase. 

However, experts believe we might see a fundamental shift in the way we use the internet. As mentioned, review factories – sometimes called review farms – exist already. But the evolution of AI and AI-assisted bots creates a completely new challenge. For example, it is possible with the use of AI technologies similar to ChatGPT to create brand new websites with huge amounts of content – including fake reviews – in a matter of hours. We are only starting to get to grips with the awesome potential of AI, but the ability to create massive amounts of fake content must be addressed. 

AI might provide the solution as well as the problem

Now, the good news is that AI also represents the solution to the problem. Just as we can use AI to create fake reviews, we can also use generative AI to spot fake content. This has already been implemented to fight the fake reviews that hamper the travel industry. But there will nevertheless be a huge challenge to meet. Not every online user will be able to employ an AI tool to verify the reviews they are reading. And it’s worth stressing again just how quickly bad actors can build a website and deploy bots to write content that is indistinguishable from human-created content. 

In the end, it will require us, as consumers, to be careful. We mentioned TripAdvisor earlier, and we also said that many of us know to take the reviews with a grain of salt. Many of us have become skeptical about reviews on these platforms, but we are able to sift through them to reach an understanding of the product. But the use of AI might mean that we must become even more careful, perhaps by cross-checking reviews on different platforms or by using filters that only provides reviews from verified users. Regardless, there is going to be a huge challenge to meet in the coming years. 

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