Consumers' increased reliance on social media ratings and reviews will see enterprise spending on paid social media ratings and reviews increase, making up 10 to 15 percent of all reviews by 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. However, analysts predict that increased media attention on fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.
Organizations who opt to pay for fake reviews can, and have, faced both public condemnation as well as monetary fines. In 2009, the FTC determined that paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such.
As the FTC begins to crack down on this practice of fake reviews/ratings, some reputation management companies are taking a different approach, not posting new, fake, favorable reviews, but identifying fake and defaming reviews and requesting the reviewers or host site remove them or face legal repercussions. Gartner analysts said they expect a similar market of companies to emerge specializing in reputation defense versus reputation creation.
Gartner believes that although consumer trust in social media is currently low, consumer perception of tightened government regulation and increased media exposure of fake social media ratings and reviews will ultimately increase consumer trust in new and existing social media ratings and reviews.
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