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Research project on fake reviews on the internet

"FakeInDigitalMarkets" starts.

A blurry man in a suit taps a row of stars from inside the screen

Every day, millions of online reviews of products, services, institutions, and actors are published on popular platforms such as Amazon, ebay, Google, Facebook, and airbnb. Today, users of online services can rate almost anything, and rating systems have become commonplace on digital marketplaces over the last decade. Reviews are a critical factor in determining which product or service users choose, but fake reviews are increasingly widespread and will continue to increase, according to experts including the German Federal Cartel Office.

To address this problem, the research group “Fake Reviews in Digital Markets: Analysis and Solutions” (FakeInDigitalMarkets) will focus on the issue of fake reviews in digital markets over the next two years. The group, which includes researchers from the Department of Economics of the WiSo Faculty of the University of Cologne around Dr David Kusterer, the Technical University of Clausthal, and the Helmut Schmidt University (HSU) has received a grant of 250,000€ from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

The project aims to analyze how and when fake reviews are used and to what extent they affect the functionality and efficiency of markets. Additionally, it will also develop solutions to reduce the volume of fake reviews and their negative impact on online platforms. Going beyond simple algorithms for filtering out manipulated reviews, the researchers will optimize the display of reviews to make it easier for users to spot fake reviews. "Fake reviews are inherently fraudulent and can lead to market failure and inefficiency in digital markets. We are addressing this problem in the research project and will systematically test various solution ideas," says Professor Dr Fabian Paetzel, spokesperson of the project.

The FakeInDigitalMarkets project will use laboratory and online experiments to systematically investigate the uses, causes, and impact of fake reviews on online markets. The project will also include workshops with other researchers and a final conference with practitioners to ensure knowledge transfer from research to the social, political, and business dimensions.


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