8 September 2016
We thought it worth highlighting this issue brought up by the LA Times last week.
Consumer based information sites in most, if not all, other industries would be dealing with the issue in court sooner rather than later if it was revealed that up to 60% of reviews ( as alleged by the Times article) were fake
Sounds like a future class action in the making to us
Here’s a snippet of what the LA Times said
Millions of consumers treat Weedmaps like the Yelp for pot, relying on the Irvine company as their definitive guide to marijuana dispensaries, varieties and doctors.
But a key feature — user reviews of pot businesses — may be tainted by thousands of potentially fraudulent comments, a flaw in the company’s software revealed.
Reviews on the site are pseudonymous, and visitors reasonably expect that each is written by a unique customer. But data that Weedmaps mistakenly leaked suggests a large proportion of a glowing remarks come from individual users leaving multiple reviews of a single business.
Of 598 businesses examined by the Los Angeles Times and a software developer, 70% had at least one batch of reviews originating from the same IP address.
The repetition is suspicious because IP addresses are typically associated with a single device for up to years. One address contributing several reviews for the same dispensary raises questions about their validity.
MJ Biz has also followed up on the story writing
At the very least, the Times article highlights the potential problems for an online cannabis review website such as Weedmaps – namely, the possibility of bogus reviews and the difficulty in countering them. Phony reviews also can cast a shadow on legitimate retailers.
“It’s definitely problematic … There’s not as many avenues to reach people, so Weedmaps, Leafly, those are where the consumers are,” said Aaron Varney, director of Dockside Cannabis, a Seattle retailer, referring to Weedmaps’ main competitor.
Varney said there’s meat to the possibility, raised in the Times story, that many retailers are paying consumers to post positive reviews or providing incentives, like discounted purchases.
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