Fake Reviews Surged In 2021

Reviews written and posted to the Trustpilot platform rose 21% to 46.7 million in 2021, and viewed business profiles rose 7% to 508 million the same year, according to Trustpilot.

Some 2.7 million fake reviews -- about 5.8% of the total posted in 2021 on the Trustpilot review platform -- were removed.

A similar percentage -- 5.7% -- were removed in 2020.

The data is part of Trustpilot’s second annual Transparency Report released this week, which analyzes the data across its platform to provide an in-depth analysis on the state of fake reviews.

Trustpilot defines fake reviews as those that do not reflect a “genuine service or buying experience with a business -- or reviews that have been left in an attempt to manipulate consumer perception, or negatively target a particular business.”



Viewed business profiles rose 7% to 508 million the same year, according to Trustpilot.

Some 85% of people in the U.K. and the U.S. say they would be willing to prove their identity to protect others from misinformation online.

Trustpilot’s software, on average, analyzed 128,000 reviews daily in 2021. The proportion of one-star fake reviews rose 6% to 29% in 2021, as more businesses use an automated invitation method.

In April, the company introduced a delay process of up to 2 hours from when a review is submitted to when it is published on the platform to help reduce fake reviews.

It also rolled out a customer verification process this year, but plans to help businesses identify organic reviews as genuine experiences by collecting more information from reviewers up front, and increase consumer engagement with requests to show evidence of an experience.

In 2021, the number of organic reviews written rose 17% to 11,850,440.

“Organic” refers to those reviews written without an invitation from a business to write one. About 34.5 million -- up 21% -- were written because of an invitation from the business. About 19.8 million of the 34.5 million were labeled as verified -- up 29% from the prior year.

Some 46,733,230 reviews -- up 21% compared with the prior year -- were written on the Trustpilot platform globally in 2021. At the end of 2021, there were 714,301 business websites with reviews on Trustpilot, and 414,015 of those businesses received reviews from consumers in 2021.

Fake reviews on the Trustpilot platform typically include a business leaving a review on its own profile, a review that has been paid for in an effort to manipulate business ratings, a review left on a competitor’s Trustpilot page in a deliberate attempt to undermine its rating, an advertising or promotional message disguised as reviews, a review that has been removed from the platform because it contains harmful or illegal content, a review not based on a genuine experience or about the business being reviewed.

Consumers are becoming more aware of fake reviews. The total number of reviews flagged by consumers in 2021 rose to 110,663, from 88,412 in 2020.

Of those flagged, 18,065 were deemed as accurate by Trustpilot’s Content Integrity Team, which means that consumers had a flagging accuracy rate of 16% compared to 12.4% in 2020. This improvement is a result of improving the clarity of our flagging reasons and processes in 2020.

About 60,236 were flagged for advertising or promotional reasons; 39,556 were not based on a genuine experience; 12,177 seemed harmful or illegal; and 8,814 included personal information.  

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