Fake accounts and profiles have been a bane for the modern web. They plague both stakeholders — the platforms as well as their users. Almost all major sites from Amazon and Facebook to Twitter have struggled to curb the influence and reach of fake posts. Inauthentic comments and reviews erode their credibility, and can lead to an exodus of users. To counter that, popular reviews and product discovery site MouthShut has removed close to 80,000 fake profiles. All content posted by these accounts have been removed too.
MouthShut said that it took its team more than six months to complete the task, given the number of reviews (in thousands) the platform receives each day. The anomalies were difficult to weed out. “Few brands tend to stage themselves as consumers, or hire an agency to help them achieve positive mentions online. Some even attempt to AstroTurf such reviews. Earlier in 2012, we had deleted around 4,100 fake user accounts,” Faisal Farooqui, founder of MouthShut, said in a statement.
MouthShut is consciously trying to move away from the reputation that often comes to define user-generated reviews and ratings sites. “I wouldn’t want Mouthshut to be portrayed as a platform that will tolerate non-genuine reviews or allow brands to manipulate ratings on our platform,” says Farooqui, who founded the site in 2002. MouthShut now has a monthly user base of 12 million across web and mobile.
It has assembled a team that uses a combination of advanced screening technologies, automated algorithm and human intervention to ensure that only the fake profiles (or reviews) are weeded out. MouthShut has also enabled a KYC verification process for all its reviewers. It is even incentivizing users who voluntarily complete their KYC. “Through this exercise, we are constantly assuring our community members that MouthShut will do whatever it takes to remain the authentic, trustworthy and neutral consumer reviews platform that they have always expected us to be,” Farooqui explains.