Fighting Fake Reviews – This is Why We Require Facebook Connect for New User Profiles

Starting March 31st it has only been possible to create new user profiles on Trustpilot in one of two ways: Either by invitation from a company using our feedback service or directly on Trustpilot using Facebook Connect. The reason is simple: We want to get real experiences from real people. We’re currently testing to see if this is the right cure for fighting the disease of fake reviews. Here’s why.

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You’ll find reviews of more than 91,000 companies onTrustpilot and we’re continuing to grow at a remarkable speed. So too, is the business value of sharing good reviews. The Trustpilot community is reviewing, commenting and reporting like never before. But an unfortunate side effect of this growth is that we are seeing an increased number of potentially fake reviews. We have already set up measures to fight fake reviews, but now we’re stepping it up a notch to put a stop to this unfortunate trend. It’s our goal to build the world’s most trustworthy online review site, which is why we need to ensure that reviews on Trustpilot are written by real people.

What this means is:

  • You now need to connect using a social media profile, rather than simply signing up with an email address.
  • Therefore, to create a new Trustpilot account you either need an invitation from a company you’ve recently purchased from, or you can connect using your social identity, such as Facebook.

This only impacts new user profiles. Those being invited to write a review by a company are validated through Trustpilot’s Automatic Feedback Service. You can recognize such reviews by looking at the “verified buyer”stamp in the user profile bio.

It’s also worth stressing that nothing has changed in the way you write reviews. Users with an existing Trustpilot profile can still login using an email address and password. However, we do encourage existing users to connect via Facebook as well.

Validating user profiles reduce fake reviews

We think of trust on various levels. A trustworthy review, for example, contains a detailed description of the buying experience that others can clearly understand. But trust is also about the users themselves. Whom do we trust? People we know. We trust more if there’s a real face to a real name. This is especially true when it comes to reviews on the internet– a profile with a photo and a name and connections goes a long way to establishing trust, to showing the real person behind a review.

Trust does not want to be measured, categories or translated into ultimate truths. It’s all in the eye of the beholder and we are committed to make the stories shared on Trustpilot as trustworthy as possible, by ensuring that real customers are behind the reviews.

In other words: We want less anonymous “Mr C’s” and more profiles like Joe Chapman.

Imagine if you will, it must have been pretty boring to be the first one to own a telephone. It was probably just as boring as checking out Trustpilot when only a single review was posted. The value of using a review platform like Trustpilot increases the more reviews there are, and so does the temptation to post fake reviews. Today anyone can search through and read more than 5.5 million reviews on Trustpilot and it’s increasing every day. By requiring registration via Facebook, we get more trustworthy user profiles and less fake reviews.

Ensuring higher quality reviews

We believe that creating a review on Trustpilot should be easy, but not too easy. Unfortunately, some people get a little too creative, and when that happens we take the necessary actions. Striking the right balance between sharing in-depth stories and giving a representative picture of the company being reviewed will always be a trade-off. And you can’t get it all. So the real question when developing Trustpilot really boils down to this: Do we want as many reviews as possible to make the company profiles more representative, or do we want more detailed experiences based on a smaller sample size?

Currently, the total number of reviews is large enough to give a good representation of the companies present. It seems like a good time to pull a lever and twist a handle to ensure higher quality reviews by giving a bit up on quantity.

We realize that Facebook Connect will result in less reviews, but we’ve already seen that the user profiles and the reviews made over the last 3 days are more detailed now. So it looks like the overall quality in reviews is increasing, which of course is a good thing for everyone.

Facebook Connect is good but not perfect

We’ve received a few complaints from users who couldn’t understand why they needed a Facebook account to be able to use Trustpilot. We realize that not everyone is in favor of Facebook, and we are strongly considering other validation options as well, such as Twitter or Google+.

We currently don’t have any requirement regarding minimum number of friends or similar for Facebook validation, but that’s another potential next step. Overall, we think Facebook is doing a great job removing fake profiles, but we would very much like to hear if anyone knows more about this.

We welcome any suggestions on how we can make the process go from good to great without compromising the overall user experience and leaving the door open for fake reviews. The comments are open.